Tesco top in UK Christmas trading battle - Kantar Worldpanel

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German discounter duo Lidl and Aldi shared the title of Britain's fastest growing supermarket in the three months to the end of December, figures published by Kantar Worldpanel on Tuesday revealed.

According to Nielsen, Tesco recorded the largest sales of the big four United Kingdom supermarkets in their busiest period of the year and had the most improved performance over the final 12 weeks of 2017.

It was a strong end to the year for grocery retailers as shoppers spent nearly £500m more on groceries this December than the last one, and for Tesco in particular who saw the largest sales growth of the Big Four in the final quarter.

Kantar said that, across the grocery retailers, households shrugged off economic worries to spend an average £1,054 over the period. UK-wide inflation hit 3.1pc in November, the most recent month for which data is available from the Office for National Statistics.

"Shoppers parted with £747m on 22 December alone, making the Friday before Christmas the busiest shopping day ever recorded", said Kantar Worldpanel retail and consumer insight head Fraser McKevitt.

"Shoppers parted with 747 million pounds on December 22 alone, making the Friday before Christmas the busiest shopping day ever recorded".

He said the total price of Morrisons' basket of 100 key Christmas items was held at last year's level. And across both physical and online sales, shoppers spent more than £1bn more than they did during the previous year's festive season. "It was in stark contrast to many high street retailers who saw less footfall and sales declines", says Mike Watkins, Nielsen's United Kingdom head of retailer insight.

"Rising to the challenge, Aldi and Lidl collectively managed to attract almost one million additional households during the past three months".

Nonetheless, Tesco's overall market share inched 0.2 percentage points lower to 28 per cent. Asda managed to grow sales by 2.2 per cent, but also suffered a 0.2 per cent loss of market share to 15.3 per cent. Morrisons' share fell by the same amount to 10.7 per cent and Sainsbury's declined by 0.3 percentage points to 16.4 per cent. For the 12 weeks ended December 30, Aldi's market share rose to 7.5% from 6.9% for the comparable period ended December 31, 2016, while Lidl's rose to 4.9% from 4.4%.

Sainsbury's market share fell by 0.3 percentage points to 16.4 per cent.

Figures from the BRC also out on Tuesday showed United Kingdom retailers saw a 0.6% like-for-like sales rise in December but the report highlighted how the "severe pressure" on spending was weighing heavily on some firms much more than others.

But separate numbers from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) highlighted the starkly different picture for non-food stores, which saw their worst fall since 2009.

Overall online supermarket sales enjoyed their biggest ever Christmas: up 4.9 per cent year-on-year. Ocado comfortably outpaced the online market, increasing sales by 8.4% to account for 1.3% of the grocery market.

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