Analysis: Has coronavirus called a halt to Aldi’s growth?

Aldi sign

The relentless rise of Aldi over recent years has been one of grocery retail’s enduring success stories. The value giant, like rival Lidl, ate into the market share of mainstream grocers as consumers gorged on its low prices and tightly curated range.

Since 2018, Aldi has overtaken Waitrose and the Co-op to become the fifth-largest grocer in the UK, behind only the big four.

But the latest Kantar food retail data showed a reversal of fortunes that could never have been envisaged just a few months ago. Not only did Aldi’s sales growth lag that of some of its ‘establishment’ competitors, but it also lost market share.

Aldi’s revenues advanced 10.4% in the 12 weeks to May 17 – behind the gains of more than 12% achieved by TescoSainsbury’s and Waitrose. Its market share edged down to 7.7% from 8% a year earlier. Just a couple of months ago, Kantar recorded sales growth at Aldi of 11%.

The slowdown reflected changes to food shopping habits precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic. There has been higher online spending and the return of the big weekly shop since the pandemic struck.

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