Aldi and Lidl emerge as clear winners for Christmas as households ditch ‘big 4’

Lidl experienced a 33% increase in year-on-year sales for its premium product range, Deluxe, last Christmas, with sales up 8%, beating the entire market of ‘big four’ grocers.

Releasing its figures today, the German discounter said sales rose significantly in the six weeks to 30 December with its busiest day falling on 22 December, dubbed ‘Super Saturday’.

However, while Lidl saw sales of its Deluxe turkey rise 100%, it failed to beat direct rival Aldi which raked in a record-breaking £1 billion in December, recording year-on-year growth of 10.1%.

Today, Lidl claimed it took in £58million from Waitrose, M&S and the big four, after cash-strapped shoppers switched over to the discounter for 19p seasonal vegetables and £3.95 meat.

‘Big four’ fail to hit the right note

Lidl and Aldi have emerged as the clear winners last Christmas with both seeing significant leaps in numbers over the festive spell – and year itself.

A 10% rise from Aldi, compares to Lidl’s 8% jump – with the next best being Tesco at 2.6%, and it’s easy to see why. Yesterday, Barclaycard figures showed consumer spending for essential goods has risen just 0.6% in the past year while supermarket spending is at its slowest rate since March 2017.

In short, a year of inflation, coupled with stagnant wages, means people have less money to spend – while others are having to re-think what they buy and where. It may account for why despite £450 million being spent on groceries last December, two-thirds of all households shopped at either Aldi or Lidl.

Over this period the two grocers were both offering 19p vegetables versus 20p at Asda, 29p at Tesco and 45p at Morrisons. This compares to a starting price of 30p at Sainsbury’s – which saw its grocery sales fall 0.4% for Christmas.

And this year, even the aspirational factor failed to wow shoppers with M&S’s like-for-like food sales falling 3.1% in December – while Waitrose was up just 1.4% including its John Lewis arm. Instead, Lidl was selling 40,000 of its own-brand ‘Deluxe’ mince pies an hour.

"I’m not surprised by Lidl’s results – they’ve recognised that just because shoppers want things cheap, they don’t want cheap tasting food. Consumers want to eat healthily and feel sophisticated, but they don’t want to have to fork out for it," explained Martin Lane at Money.co.uk.

"By upping their offerings to include things you might only expect in deluxe stores they’ve bridged the gap and stolen custom from the likes of Waitrose and M&S. Lidl has managed to deliver without the expensive price tag."

Across the market, premium own-brand lines increased by 3.7% over the 12-week period to Christmas – hitting a record £1.1 billion in sales – as customers looked to trade up on quality for their Christmas dinner.

Asda’s ‘Extra Special’ range was the fastest growing of any premium line of the major retailers, followed by Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.

Fraser McKevitt at research website Kantar Worldpanel, said: "The discounters have continued to make their mark over Christmas: two-thirds of all households shopped at either Aldi or Lidl over the 12-week period culminating in a highest-ever combined Christmas market share of 12.8%.

"With sales up 10.4%, Aldi narrowly won the crown of the fastest-growing supermarket and it appears its marketing efforts are paying off – at least when it comes to vegetables. The return of Kevin the Carrot contributed to an 18% increase in carrot sales and nearly one in five households bought the vegetable at the discounter."

40,000 mince pies sold an hour

It said best-selling products from its award-winning Deluxe range included crisps, mince pies and its brioche burger buns. 

"We have continued to expand our footprint across the UK over the past year, and it is no surprise that this contributed to more customers than ever before shopping with us in December and over the Christmas period," Christian Härtnagel, Lidl UK CEO, said.

"In the context of a tough trading environment facing all grocery retailers, we are particularly pleased with the performance of our ‘Deluxe’ premium range of products, which registered strong sales increases and proved a major draw for new and existing customers.

"We understand that shoppers are increasingly conscious of cost and for that reason, we not only continued to invest in our low prices – as is seen in our 19p veg offers – but also innovation across our premium range, all to enable our customers to have the best possible seasonal celebrations.”

The grocer said over December, it sold over 40,000 mince pies an hour while its Sprouts Trees, Cavelo Nero and Speciality Broccoli helped contributed towards a 100% uplift in sales.

Outside of its core lines, it sold more than 100 tonnes of its Brioche Burger Bun – the equivalent of eight New Routmaster buses, while its artisanal Hortus gin range, including Plum and Cinnamon, and Gingerbread saw alcohol sales rise 18%.

This compares to Aldi’s 17 million bottles of wine, champagne and prosecco sold in the 31 days to December 31.

Lidl’s store expansion also continued at pace across the UK in the final months of the year, with seven stores opening throughout the holiday season.

To support its continued growth in the UK, Lidl reiterated plans to invest a further £1.45bn across 2019 and 2020 in the UK, which includes the opening of a new RDC in Doncaster in early 2019.

"All of our colleagues across the country play such a critical role during this busy period and I’m really proud of and grateful for their commitment and dedication to our customers. Going into the new year we remain committed to helping Lidl customers save on their shopping, and continue to focus on providing our unbeatable high-quality-low-price combination," Härtnagel, added.

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