Lidl enjoying fastest growth of Northern Ireland's major supermarkets
Lidl is the supermarket with the fastest growing sales in Northern Ireland over the last year, according to research.
Kantar Worldpanel's Northern Ireland Consumer Spend data revealed that over the 52 weeks to November 2, the German retailer's sales grew by 8.5% and the number of customers jumped by 9,000 over the same period.
And while it holds a market share of 5.8% and is in fourth place, with Tesco's 35.2% at number one, it is still the best performer for sales growth of the top four grocery retailers here.
Tesco, which has around 50 stores in the province, saw its sales increase by 1.7%.
This was at a slower rate than the increase it has experienced over previous periods, although nine out of 10 shoppers here are going to Tesco.
Meanwhile, Asda fell behind Sainsbury's on the leader board. Asda, which has 17 NI stores, saw its sales grow by 0.1%, while Sainsbury's sales rose by 2.1%. Asda and Sainsbury's hold 17.1% and 17.4% of the take home grocery market respectively and have plans to merge their businesses.
Douglas Faughnan, consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel, said: "Overall grocery sales in Northern Ireland increased by 1.4% over the 52 weeks to November 4, 2018.
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"On average, Northern Irish shoppers have spent an additional £34.80 throughout the year and this can largely be attributed to higher prices.
"Although Tesco's growth was slower than in the preceding period, sales are 1.7% higher than this time last year, helping the grocer to retain an overall 35.2% share of the market.
"More than nine out of 10 Northern Irish households shopped at Tesco in the last 12 months.
"Sainsbury's increased sales by 2.1%, widening the gap over rival Asda.
"The supermarket attracted an additional 18,000 shoppers through its doors and now accounts for 17.4% of grocery sales in Northern Ireland, ahead of Asda's 17.1%.
"For the second consecutive period, Lidl recorded growth of 8.5% and was the only other retailer to increase shopper numbers. More than 9,000 additional customers visited Lidl over the course of the year, helping the retailer capture 5.8% of the market."
Meanwhile, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is continuing its investigation of Asda and Sainsbury's merger plans. This week, letters of objection to the merger, which is valued at around £12bn, expressed concern that the sector would become a duopoly between Tesco and the newly merged entity, if the deal goes ahead.
'Supplier B' said in a letter that "regardless of how the market is viewed, at the very least the proposed merger has the potential to create a duopoly between Tesco and the parties (Sainsbury's and Asda).
"This could facilitate collusion between Tesco and the parties, ultimately harming consumers."