Supermarkets delivered record Christmas sales but the rate of growth slowed.

Grocers notched up sales of £29.3 billion in the 12 weeks to December 30 2018 – up £450 million year on year – but market growth of 1.6% was the lowest since March 2017 according to Kantar Worldpanel data.

Asda was the best performer of the big four, achieving overall sales growth of 0.7% to give it a market share of 15.2% versus 15. 3% the previous year. Tesco’s sales rise of 0.6% was close behind. Its market share was 27.8% compared to 28.1% the previous year.

However Aldi was the market leader as sales climbed 10.4%. Its market share rose to 7.4% from 6.8%.

Sainsbury’s market share dropped by 0.3 percentage points to 16.2% as sales fell by 0.4%. Morrisons market share declined by 0.2 percentage points to 10.6% despite sales growth of 0.1%

Kantar Worldpanel head of retail and consumer insight Fraser McKevitt said: “Although the grocers achieved record sales, overall spend was actually tempered by lower inflation of 1.3% – that’s less than half the level of like-for-like inflation of 3.6% which was recorded in Christmas 2017.

“This slower inflation rate helped shoppers to manage their festive budgets, with 60% of customers looking to make savvier decisions to make their money go further over the holidays.

“The discounters have continued to make their mark over Christmas: two-thirds of all households shopped at either Aldi or Lidl over the 12-week period culminating in a highest-ever combined Christmas market share of 12.8%.”

The other main market monitor, Nielsen, found that grocery sales growth slowed to 1.8% in the last four weeks, almost half that at the same time the previous year.

Nielsen UK head of retailer insight Mike Watkins said: “Growth slowed this Christmas in comparison to last. We can attribute this to several factors: consumer grocery shopping habits are changing, with shoppers now opting to spend less on doing one big shop, instead preferring more frequent, smaller trips to the supermarket, spreading the cost across multiple retailers to increase choice.

“Moreover, with over half of consumers not confident about their finances, shoppers are more budget-conscious and the various promotions and price cuts are a response to help them manage their household budget.

“It was a reasonable but not spectacular Christmas, indicative of how shoppers will now spread their Christmas spending across more retailers and different channels.”