Christmas goods still seem to be in plentiful stock in some Aldi stores, discovers Grocery Insight director Steve Dresser.
Aldi has had a near-peerless run since the downturn hit consumers in 2010 and Kantar figures continue to show its astonishing growth.
But the discounter is now showing symptoms of over-trading. Aisles are congested because of tremendous footfall, warehouses struggle to cope and car parks barely accommodate all customers.
Aldi’s popularity meant that in 2013 it sold out of its award-winning mince pies and Christmas puddings, resulting in lost sales. But it pushed a wider range and greater volume of stock into stores in 2014, allowing it to increase sales and ensure it didn’t lose customers to – among others – a resurgent Tesco over the Christmas period.
The festive fresh and ambient ranges were increased significantly and Aldi added numerous lines under its Premium label.
However, that hasn’t paid off. Visits to Aldi after Christmas showed significant volumes of left-over Christmas stock, both fresh and grocery, with surprisingly few reductions applied.
Its competitors were virtually cleared out of Christmas stock by the new year. Even Tesco, which typically struggles with large volumes of confectionery after Christmas, managed to clear stock by applying strong reductions.
As it moves towards February, Aldi is still trading through high levels of Christmas products. Despite being a discount retailer with limited space, in the Bradford/Leeds area it has only reduced its artificial Christmas trees to 50%, for example.
Twitter comment indicates Aldi is heavy on Christmas stock in other parts of the country as well. In Milton Keynes this week there was also a high level of Christmas goods.
The question is: with a continuation of record-breaking sales and footfall, how has Aldi got its Christmas range so wrong?
However Aldi Joint managing director of corporate buying Tony Baines said the grocer had successfully catered for Christmas shoppers.
He said: “We’re delighted that the most recent Kantar Worldpanel sales figures for the 12 weeks to January 4 2015 show that customers are continuing to vote with their feet and choosing to shop at Aldi, supporting our position as the strongest growing UK supermarket with 22.6% growth year-on-year.
“We significantly expanded our range this Christmas with the intent of providing our customers with everything they need to complete a full Christmas shop right up to Christmas Eve. We are proud to have achieved this, resulting in enhanced customer satisfaction and continued growth.”