Supermarket sweep: Lidl and Aldi riding high, doubling market share in just three years


Discounters taking the competition for a ride

The first series of Dale Winton’s high-camp consumer quiz, Supermarket Sweep, was broadcast in 1993. Big glasses, baggy jumpers and perms were derigueur and Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You was number one. The Cold War was over, capitalism had won, and it was time to spend.

Back then Tesco had a 19% share of the grocery market, Sainsbury’s had 19.6%, Asda 9.5%, Co-op 6.9%, Safeway had 8.5% and Kwik-Save had 9.6%.

Few people in the UK had experienced German supermarket Aldi, which opened its first British store in 1990, and indeed, only accepted cash until 2004.

It now has over 560 stores across the UK, and won Which?’s Supermarket of the Year award for the fourth time in 2015.

Supermarket Sweep Dale Winton

Patron saint of supermarkets Dale Winton, with what appears to be a modified high-speed shopping trolley

Meanwhile, another German contender, Lidl, was also growing, but didn’t make it across the channel until 1994.

The company now has over 600 stores and a workforce of 11,000 in the UK.

It has also just been named as the official supermarket of the England football team. Hopefully that means all the multi-millionaire players will be contractually obliged to shop there. I for one am looking forward to spotting Wayne Rooney picking up a few cans of Grafenwalder cut-price lager.

Kwik-Save is now gone, Safeway got bought out by Morrisons at the turn of the century, and Asda, with the power of Walmart behind it, has become a huge force.

But it is Aldi and Lidl’s fast growth that is troubling the major players.

Between them, the German discount chains have doubled their market share to 10% in the last three years – a rapid spurt in their size.

Aldi’s market share was 5.6% in the 12 weeks to 8 November, while Lidl’s was 4.4%, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

During the same period Sainsbury’s was the only one of the big four supermarkets to grow.

The supermarkets’ market share now looks like this:

  • Tesco 27.9%
  • Sainsbury’s 16.6%
  • Asda 16.4%
  • Morrisons 10.8%
  • The Co-operative 6.3%
  • Aldi 5.6%
  • Waitrose 5.2%
  • Lidl 4.4%

Kantar Worldpanel head of retail and consumer insight Fraser McKevitt said: “If you look back as recently as 2012 Aldi and Lidl only held a 5% share of the market, and it had previously taken them nine years to double their combined share from 2.5%.

“In the last 12 weeks, the two retailers have attracted another additional million shoppers compared with last year, while average spend per trip has increased by 4% to £18.85, which is 78p ahead of the total retailer average.

“The discounters show no sign of stopping and with plans to open hundreds of stores between them, they’ll noticeably widen their reach to the British population.”

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