Lidl's share of Northern Ireland grocery market is up again as it 'makes strong inroads'
Lidl is chipping away at Northern Ireland's top three grocery retailers, increasing its capture of the market by 0.4% over the past year, according to new figures.
The Kantar Worldpanel Market Search survey for the 52 weeks ending January 27 showed that the grocery market here grew by 1.5% over the past year, which Kantar's consumer insight director Douglas Faughnan said was "driven entirely by higher prices".
But it was Lidl that came up trumps with the highest boost in sales of 9.5%, which gave it a market share here of 5.9%, up 0.4% on the same period last year.
The German retailer, which has 38 stores in Northern Ireland, has been consistently increasing its share of the market since it opened its first store in Northern Ireland in Tyrone in 1999.
Mr Faughnan said Lidl continues to "make strong inroads".
"Lidl, with sales increases of 9.5% over the course of the year, has improved its position to capture 5.9% of the market. The retailer now has a strong foothold in Northern Ireland and three-quarters of all households have shopped there throughout year," he said.
Tesco, which has around 50 NI stores, saw spend in store increase by 1.2%. Its share of the market fell by 0.1% to 35.2%.
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However, the slight dip in market share still sees it retain its leader position here, well ahead of the second largest grocer, Sainsbury's, which has a 17.3% share of the market, down 0.1% from last year.
Sainsbury's in-store sales were also up by 1.2%, but Mr Faughnan said the growth was driven by higher prices as "overall volume sales remain flat" across the board. Asda's share of the market sits at 17.0%, down 0.1%. Its grocery sales were up by 0.4%, the weakest of all four retailers.
Meanwhile, a proposed merger between Sainsbury's, which has 14 stores here, and Asda, which has 17 Northern Ireland stores, has been delayed by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) by two months due to the "scope and complexity of the deal".
The competition watchdog, which has been probing the merger, has pushed back the date for a final decision to April 30. A statutory period for the investigation was originally due to expire on March 5.
Stuart McIntosh, who is chairing the inquiry, said the watchdog made the decision due to the need "to consider issues raised by the main parties' and third parties' submissions, and the need to reach a fully reasoned provisional decision".
He said: "Moreover, it is necessary to allow sufficient time to take full and proper account of comments that will be received in response to the inquiry group's provisional findings and to reach a fully reasoned final decision in the statutory timeframe."
It comes after Sainsbury's and Asda challenged the CMA's timeframe in court in December. The CMA defended its original deadline, saying it was "not willing to compromise on the thoroughness or objectivity" of the investigation.