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Aldi reports Christmas sales rise amid strong demand for beer, wine and spirits

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: PinPep/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: PinPep/Rex/Shutterstock

Aldi’s sales edged higher in the month leading up to Christmas, as the German discounter predicted it would prosper as households tightened their belts.

Sales at the UK’s fifth-largest supermarket chain were up 0.4% in December 2021 compared with the equivalent month in 2020, despite a boost that year from people ordering more groceries amid a lockdown that forced restaurants and cafes to close.

Kicking off the Christmas updates for supermarkets, Aldi claimed figures from the research firm Kantar showed it was the “only major supermarket” to increase its sales in December. Sales growth over the month was driven by new store openings and record sales of its premium range, and strong demand for beer, wine and spirits.

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Aldi’s chief executive said the discounter stood to benefit even further if people opted for cheaper shopping lists this year, as a cost-of-living crisis looms because of rising energy bills and higher taxes.

Giles Hurley, Aldi UK’s chief executive, said: “There’s no doubt that 2021 was a long and difficult year for lots of people, but our amazing colleagues stopped at nothing as they came together to deliver the Christmas that our customers deserved.

“As we look ahead, the top priority for most families this year will be managing their household budgets in the face of rising living costs.”

Aldi UK and Ireland, privately owned by the German company Aldi Sud, said its total sales were up 8.1% compared with 2019 before the pandemic affected trading. However, analysts estimated that the chain’s sales fell at established stores, with all growth coming from new store openings.

Kunaal Shah, a retail analyst at GlobalData, said Aldi’s festive performance was disappointing: “Growth achieved by the discounter in 2020 was predominantly driven by higher consumer grocery spend during the national lockdowns helped by the closure of the hospitality sector, but Aldi’s poor online proposition has held it back in 2021 and will hinder the retailer’s future growth plans as consumers increasingly buy online.”

However, the upmarket northern grocer Booths also enjoyed increased sales in the Christmas period. Sales at the group’s 27 established stores rose 6.5% in the three weeks to 1 January.

The family-owned company said shoppers had planned ahead amid fears of restrictions because of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, with sales of frozen party food grow almost tripling – up 170% – and frozen desserts up 41%. The supermarket’s chief operating officer, Nigel Murray, said there was also a late surge: “Customers clearly trusted Booths to ‘deliver the goods’ as the final trading week saw record sales levels achieved.”

The strong numbers at both ends of the market indicate a second decent Christmas for supermarkets as Omicron put a dampener on visits to pubs, bars and restaurants and encouraged many to entertain at home.

While Aldi claimed to be the only major supermarket to enjoy higher year-on-year sales during December 2021, several big supermarkets are yet to release figures. Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer are due to publish their festive trading results later this week.