Can anything stop the rise of the discount supermarkets? Aldi is now the sixth largest grocer in Britain, after a 16.8% growth spurt in the 12 weeks to 29 March, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel. It now commands a 5.3% market share, overtaking Waitrose on 5.1% after the high end supermarket's sales growth began to slow.
Its bosses must now have their eye on the struggling Co-operative, whose 6% share looks easily assailable, especially given its sales dipped 1.7% in the period. Expect 'Aldi is now Britain's fifth largest supermarket' headlines in the not too distant future.
'Growth has been fuelled by over half a million new shoppers choosing to visit Aldi this year and average basket sizes increasing by 7%,' said Fraser McKevitt, Kantar Worldpanel's head of retail and consumer insight.
'The German discounter’s sales have increased by 16.8% in the latest period, still high compared to other retailers but slower relative to its recent performance.' But then that's probably to be expected the larger Aldi gets. Its fellow discounter Lidl's sales were up 12.1%, also slightly lower than in previous periods.
Among the mid-market 'Big Four' supermarkets, Tesco continued to perform the strongest with sales up 0.3%, and Sainsbury's returned to growth for the first time since last August with sales up 0.2%. Asda and Morrisons continued to slide, with respective sales down 1.1% and 0.7%.
'The changing structure of Britain’s supermarket landscape is illustrated by two facts,' McKevitt added. 'Firstly, the so called discounters Aldi and Lidl now command a combined 9.0% share of the market. In 2012 the same two retailers only accounted for 5.4% of grocery sales. Secondly, the 72.8% share taken by the biggest four retailers is now at the lowest level in a decade.'
How much bigger the discounters can get is a difficult question to answer - there's only so many people who are willing to give up their Sainsbury's Taste the Difference meat joints and Tesco Finest Swiss chocolate cheesecake. But with Asda and Morrisons struggling to define their place in the market and Aldi and Lidl catching up, the era of dominance by the Big Four could soon be coming to an end.