Retail

Big four’ supermarkets struggle as Aldi and Lidl march higher

None of the UK’s “big four” supermarkets managed to grow their sales in the last 12 weeks, the first time in almost three years that they have all failed to do so.
In contrast, German discounters Aldi and Lidl marched to a record combined market share in the UK grocery sector as their expansion continued, eating into the supremacy of the established big players, according to closely watched data from Kantar.
It was the first time since June 2016 that none of the big four – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – increased their sales compared to the same period in the previous year, underlining the profound impact of the discounters.
Market leader Tesco was the only big four grocer to avoid a sales slump in the 12 weeks to May 19, with its sales unchanged from the same period last year. Sainsbury’s was the biggest loser, with sales declining 1.7pc year-on-year as it narrowly avoided being overtaken by Asda in the battle to be the country’s second largest supermarket chain.

in the 12 weeks to May 19, with its sales unchanged from the same period last year. Sainsbury’s was the biggest loser, with sales declining 1.7pc year-on-year as it narrowly avoided being overtaken by Asda in the battle to be the country’s second largest supermarket chain.

Asda and Morrisons saw their sales slip 0.2pc and 0.4pc respectively.

Aldi and Lidl have transformed the UK grocery market, enticing consumers with cheaper own-brand goods despite offering a more limited selection of products than the big four.

Sales at Aldi leapt 11.1pc in the 12-week period compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile Lidl grew its sales by 8.5pc and lifted its market share to 5.8pc.

Overall, the grocery market grew by 1.3pc during the quarter, compared to the same period last year. Kantar’s figures show that grocery prices have been rising for two-and-a-half years.

Supermarkets engaged in higher levels of promotional activity in recent weeks as they aimed to compete with the discounters, according to separate research from data analysis firm Nielsen. This included offers from Sainsbury’s and Tesco as they celebrate their 150- and 100-year anniversaries, respectively.

“Recent advertising seems to be resonating well with the 12m households looking to save money on grocery shopping,” said Nielsen’s Mike Watkins.

The competition watchdog blocked a deal last month that would have seen Sainsbury’s and Asda join forces to overtake Tesco as the sector’s dominant player. The pair argued that the merger would enable them to cut costs and lower prices but the regulator found it would harm consumers.