Lidl and Aldi share title of Britain's fastest growing supermarket, data reveals

FTSE 100 watch Index to pause after record highs

Mince pie sales rose by 13.2% year-on-year and alcohol sales grew by 5.1% year-on-year, with spirits up 7.6% as consumers favoured gin and whisky.

Asda, owned by Walmart, increased sales by 2.2% in the period to December 31, while 2.1% more came through the tills at Morrisons and Sainsbury's was up 2.0%, the research group said.

Indeed, private-label sales at the supermarkets grew at almost three times the rate of the overall grocery market (6 per cent) as "most retailers made a big play on the quality and value of premium private-label this Christmas, which is crucial as shoppers look to economise not compromise".

Britain's biggest supermarket group Tesco was the best performer over Christmas, Kantar Worldpanel said on Tuesday, with a 3.1% rise in sales in the past 12 weeks beating its "big four" rivals Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons.

Among the retailers, Aldi and Lidl are level pegging in the battle to be the nation's fastest growing supermarket, both growing sales by 16.8% year on year.

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.

The spending splurge saw the Friday before Christmas, December 22, become the busiest shopping day ever recorded with £747 million going through the tills and online.

Like-for-like retail sales, which exclude new store sales, rose 0.6% last month, down on December 2016's 1% rise. Fellow discounter Lidl also increased its market share, from 4.4 per cent to 4.9 per cent.

"Shoppers are splashing out despite fewer promotions to tempt them". And across both physical and online sales, shoppers spent more than £1bn more than they did during the previous year's festive season.

Mike Watkins, Nielsen's United Kingdom head of retailer insight, said: "The supermarkets did well this Christmas, particularly amid fierce price competition and shoppers starting to feel the squeeze on disposable incomes".

The latest grocery market share figures from Kantar Worldpanel, published today, showed that shoppers continued to trade up to more expensive options with a record £469 million spent on premium own label lines in December alone with chilled items, fresh meat and bakery featuring prominently.

Whilst this had helped boost overall sales, the BRC said it hit many retailers' profits for the period.

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