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Aldi and Lidl outpace the Big Four in UK expansion race

The Big Four supermarkets are lagging behind in the battle for UK expansion as discount retailer Aldi and Lidl continue to dominate the running.

The pair are pressing ahead with ambitious growth plans here in the UK, with a combined total of 128 planning applications having been submitted for new stores in 2017.

According to data form the industry analysts Barbour ABI, Lidl submitted 68 planning applications for new stores last year and Aldi closely following with 60.

The traditional Big Four lagged behind with a total of 20 planning applications – eight for Tesco, seven for Sainsbury’s, four for Morrison’s and one for Asda. Property cost issues and an excess of floor space from larger stores has reportedly contributed to the scaling back from the four.

The applications submitted are predominantly for smaller convenience stores, looking to tap into the growing consumer habit of more frequent trips to local, convenient stores.

While the Big Four have seen little growth in its shop floorspace over recent years, 2017 was a year of scaling back for Aldi and Lidl, in comparison to its space hungry years, like 2015, where it submitted a total of 205 planning applications for new stores.

Michael Dall, lead economist at Barbour ABI, said: “The discount retailers continue to dominate the supermarket space race even if they are not as active as 2015, which saw them commit to rapid expansion.

“Their appetite for investment matches their highly ambitious growth plans as they continue to challenge the established order in the supermarket sector.”

Recent years have seen both Lidl and Aldi increase its business within the toy retail sector, offering own product toy ranges as well as licensed products.

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