We're all Lidl-class these days
The latest retail statistics from Kantar WorldPanel have demonstrated, once again, that the German retailer Lidl is continuing to grow its market share. It is now estimated that a quarter of customers at Lidl are either middle-class or upper middle-class.
Champagne priced at £11.99 and smoked salmon at £2.65 are increasingly helping to accelerate sales figures.
Lidl believes shoppers are being wooed by their deluxe product lines and the fact that more than half their produce is sourced in the UK.
Not content with their ever-improving balance sheets in terms of food retailing, Lidl has also introduced a women's clothing range (a men's range is scheduled for later this year).
It appears that consumers are rapidly changing their perceptions of Lidl, leading to the growth of what has been variously described as a new "Lidl-class".
Canny consumers are much more interested in perceived value than ever; and the days of the price-quality continuum are fading into relative insignificance.
In retail terms, Lidl is at the trading-up phase of the Wheel of Retailing – and it's proving to be a runaway success.
The aisles are now full of epicurean delights such as truffle oil, lobster for £5 and creme brulee chocolates.
Coupled with great offers including Lild's so-called Claret Offensive, shoppers are being presented with a very different retail proposition from the utilitarian approach offered when the company first entered the Northern Ireland marketplace.
The rapid growth of Lidl has presented problems for bellwethers like Tesco, which has been suffering as a result of institutional and structural changes in the marketplace.
My advice to Waitrose is to get here as fast as they can if they want to get a piece of the action.
These recent advances and the plans which Lidl have for the region could mean that, if they don't get here soon, it could very well be a case of too Lidl, too late.
- Donald C McFetridge is a retail analyst at the Ulster Business School, University of Ulster