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02:47 - Source: CNN
London CNN  — 

Aldi recorded its highest-ever December sales in the United Kingdom, as shoppers squeezed by searing food price inflation flocked to the German discount supermarket chain to save money on groceries.

Sales topped £1.4 billion ($1.7 billion) for the first time, up 26% year on year, with the FIFA World Cup also boosting purchases, Aldi said in a statement on Tuesday.

Together, customers bought more than 48 million mince pies, 38 million pigs-in-blankets and more than 1,700 tonnes of Brussels sprouts in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Soaring food prices and wages that are failing to keep pace with inflation mean more UK shoppers are switching to discount retailers such as Aldi and Lidl, as well as trading down to supermarkets’ own label products.

The British Retail Consortium said Wednesday that food inflation accelerated to 13.3% in December, up from 12.4% in November, the highest level recorded since it started tracking the data in 2005. Fresh food inflation accelerated to 15% in December, also an all-time high.

“2023 will be another difficult year for consumers and businesses as inflation shows no immediate signs of waning,” BRC CEO Helen Dickinson said in a statement.

Higher prices pushed UK grocery sales to a record £12.8 billion ($15.4 billion) over the four weeks to December 25, according to separate numbers published by data analytics company Kantar on Wednesday. That’s an increase of £1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) on the previous year, even though sales measured by the number of items people bought were down 1% over the same period.

“This story played out across the traditional Christmas categories. For example, value sales of mince pies soared by 19% but volume purchases barely increased at all,” said Fraser McKevitt, Kantar’s head of retail and consumer insight, in a report.

While Kantar’s figures showed grocery price inflation falling for the second month in a row in December, it is still a “painfully high figure, impacting how and what we buy at the shops,” he added.

Sales of supermarkets’ own label products increased by 13.3% year on year over the four weeks to December 25, “well ahead of a 4.7% increase in branded lines,” McKevitt said.

Aldi remained the fastest-growing grocer in the United Kingdom last month, according to Kantar. Lidl’s sales increased by nearly 24%, its data showed. Tesco (TSCDF) and Sainsbury’s, the largest UK grocers by market share, grew sales by 6% and 6.2% respectively.