German discounter Lidl overtakes Waitrose to become UK’s seventh largest grocer

  • The German discount retailer has seen its market share rise to a new record high of 5.2 percent in the twelve weeks to August 13.

  • Meanwhile, the big four British supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrison's and Wal-Mart's Asda - saw their market presence down nearly 10 percent from five years ago

Customers browse produce of the Lidl Ltd. store in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Benjamin Boshart | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Customers browse produce of the Lidl Ltd. store in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The intense competition being faced by U.K. grocers was laid bare on Tuesday morning with new data showing that discount retailer Lidl has trumped upmarket Waitrose in the battle for market share.

The German discount retailer has seen its market share rise to a new record high of 5.2 percent in the twelve weeks to August 13, according to new data from research firm Kantar Worldpanel. The grocer's market share is up by 0.7 percentage points year-on-year, making it the seventh largest retailer in the U.K. This means it has now overtaken the cooperative food retailer Waitrose, well known for its more affluent customers and higher prices.

Meanwhile, the big four British supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrison's and Wal-Mart's Asda - saw their market presence down nearly 10 percent from five years ago. This group of four had made up of 76.3 percent of the market, but it accounts now for just 69.3 percent.

"All four of Britain's biggest grocers managed to grow sales for the fifth consecutive period, a run of collective success not seen since 2013. However, this welcome period if sustained growth hasn't been enough to entirely offset pressure from the discounters," Fraser McKevitt, head of retailer and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said in a statement.

The market share of the big four is set to fall further in the coming months, he added. Shares of Sainsbury's fell 2 percent in mid-morning deals on Tuesday. All the other listed grocers were in positive territory.

Lidl has mainly attracted families, according to the data. Sales among this group rose 40 percent faster than among households without children. Alcohol and fresh produce were the top products. Aldi, another German discounter in Britain, also saw sales grow in the same period, rising by 17.2 percent in comparison with this time last year.

Inflation to blame

U.K. consumers have been opting for discounters since the Brexit vote last year, which caused a major depreciation in sterling and made imported goods higher. Grocery inflation stood at 3.3 percent for the twelve week period analyzed, after holding steady at 3.2 percent in the past two months, Kantar Worldpanel said. At the current pace, the analytics group foresees a £138 ($177.4) increase in the average household grocery bill for 2017, with fish and butter as the most impacted products.

The German brands are hoping to increase their space in the U.S. too. Lidl has opened 14 shops in the U.S. so far this year and it plans to have 100 within a year.

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