Aldi, Lidl and Ocado lead Christmas period charge as other UK retailers slump

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As other supermarkets fought to break even during the festive period, retail online powerhouse Ocado and discounters Aldi and Lidl enjoyed their best Christmases in the UK.

Ocado's sales rose by 12.5%, while Lidl's numbers soared from 2018, with year-on-year sales growth of 10.3%. Aldi posted sales topping £1bn for the first time in the four weeks to 24th December  – an increase of 7.9% compared to the same trading period of the previous year.

“More customers than ever before shopped with us this Christmas because they knew Aldi offered unbeatable value on premium products and the lowest prices on festive essentials," Giles Hurley, CEO of Aldi UK, said. "Although we saw strong growth across all key categories, sales of our premium Specially Selected range surpassed expectations, as customers snapped up these products for a fraction of the price they would have paid elsewhere.”

While the trio did well, other UK supermarkets stumbled again as Nielsen and Kantar both reported declines for The Big Four - Tesco, Morrison's Sainsbury's and Asda. Morrison's did the poorest, showing a 1.7% dip in underlying sales. Like-for-like food sales rose 1.4% at Marks and Spencer, ahead of analysts' average forecast for a 1.1% increase, but food waste was higher than expected.

"'There was no sign of the post-election rush many had hoped for in the final weeks before Christmas, with shoppers carefully watching their budgets,' Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said. 

Monday 23 December was easily the single busiest shopping day of 2019 – and indeed the largest shopping day ever recorded – worth £798 million as the nation stocked up before Christmas Eve, according to Kantar.

Aldi and Lidl's current combined market share of 13.7% is more than treble what they held in December 2009, an unprecedented increase over the course of 10 years.  

Independent research published by industry trade publication Marketing Week showed Aldi’s Christmas advert, featuring Kevin the Carrot and Robbie Williams, to be the most effective Christmas advert following a survey of 3,000 consumers. 

Aldi once again ran its Christmas Food Donations campaign to donate unsold fresh food to local charities after its stores closed on Christmas Eve. More than 500 charities across the UK were matched with a local Aldi store and received a food donation, including fruit and vegetables, fresh meat and fish, and bread. The total volume of food donated was equivalent to over 440,000 meals.

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