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Lidl stokes looming grocery price war with claim to be ‘the destination for the lowest prices’

·2-min read
A Lidl sign outside one of its stores  (PA Wire)
A Lidl sign outside one of its stores (PA Wire)

Lidl has fuelled what looks to be a looming price war in the grocery market after its CEO pledged to keep prices low as inflation squeezes household budgets.

Christian Härtnagel, Lidl GB CEO, said in a statement: “As inflation continues to rise, I want to reassure each and every one of our customers that we remain resolute in our promise of being the destination for the lowest grocery prices in the market.”

The comments comes a day after rival Aldi made a similar pledge. UK CEO Gile Hurley said his business “will always offer the lowest prices for groceries, no matter what.”

German discounters are touting their bargain basement prices as inflation soars. Prices are rising at over 5% across the economy and running at around 3.5% in the supermarket sector. Think tank the Resolution Foundation has said 2022 will be the “year of the squeeze” as households face a £1,200 jump in annual costs from April.

Lidl and Aldi’s statements put pressure on “Big Four” rivals to make similar price promises. Sainsbury’s and Tesco kick off the Christmas reporting later this week.

Härtnagel’s statement came as Lidl reported strong Christmas trading. The retailer said sales were up 2.6% on last year and up 21% on 2019 levels. Exact figures weren’t given.

“Despite ongoing challenges with the pandemic, customers continued to find ways to celebrate this Christmas,” Härtnagel said. “Our high quality, low priced festive ranges proved a hit, helping us achieve a record Christmas with footfall and sales beating the previous two years.”

Last week market research firm Kantar said Brits spent £11.7 billion in supermarket in December, which was down slightly on 2020’s bumper total. Spending surged in 2020 as Brits splurged on food and drink during a lockdown Christmas.

Lidl claimed to have won £21 million worth of business from rivals in December as shoppers switched for value. The grocer said sales of lamb were up 21% year-on-year, while Christmas pudding sales rose 23% and wine volumes were 24% ahead of last year.

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