It seems that not all supermarkets are having a disastrous time of things. Discounter Aldi and yummy mummy favourite Waitrose have been named the fastest-growing major retailers in Britain in a study by consultants OC&C. Aldi's sales have grown by an average of 38% per year since 2011, while Waitrose was a distant second with average annual growth of 7.2%, it said.
The success of these two supermarkets is emblematic of a much-touted broader trend in retail: while the extremes of the market have flourished, those aiming to cater for the 'average' consumer have struggled. This is further underlined by the rest of OC&C's top 20 list, which features high-end brands like Burberry, Ocado and Harrods, alongside discount-focused businesses like Home Bargains, Costcutter, B&M and Poundland.
That's not to suggest a massive division within the general public, of course. The trend for buying luxury ingredients from the likes of Waitrose and M&S but picking up tins and branded food from cheaper supermarkets is well documented. So it's not a ridiculous idea that some people are buying their scarves from Burberry and their shampoo at Poundland.
'We've seen the majority of growth in the retail sector come from its polar extremes in terms of price position,' said Anita Balchandani, Head of Retail and Partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants. 'Although at first glance these retailers have little in common, what they all share is a trait to adapt the quickest to what matters most to customers, create strong propositions that are well-rated by customers, and good, transparent value, regardless of their price position.'
Britain's retailers are making a less-than-impressive showing internationally. Aldi UK, which is owned by its German parent, is only British firm to make the top 10 list of retailers in 'the west', which OC&C rather narrowly defines as the UK, US, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. Top of that list are American tech giants Apple and Amazon followed by the French giant Groupe Casino, which runs hypermarket and owns the Franprix and Monoprix brands. Britain needs to up its game.
The 20 fastest growing retailers in the UK:
1. Aldi (UK & Ireland)
3. Sports Direct
6. John Lewis
7. Home Bargains
8. B&M Retail
10. JD Sports
13. The Range
20. Dunelm Mill
The 10 fastest growing retailers in 'the west' (the UK, US, France, the Nordics, Germany and the Netherlands):
5. Aldi Group
9. TJX Companies