LONDON: Discount chains Aldi and Lidl have attained their best ever position in the UK grocery sector, new figures show.

Research firm Kantar Worldpanel reported that total category sales climbed by 3.6% year on year during the 12 weeks running up to April 17.

But the category's overall expansion lagged behind a 4.3% rise in inflation, meaning trading conditions are still mixed overall.

More specifically, Aldi enjoyed a 15% surge on an annual basis, and Lidl experienced a 14.7% lift, boosting the two organisations' market shares to 3.3% and 2.6% respectively.

Tesco had a 0.1% share decline, to 30.4%, as Asda contracted 0.2%, to 17.4%, and Sainsbury's slipped 0.1% to 16.3%.

"Major share growth remains elusive for the top four retailers this period with only Morrisons outperforming the market," Kantar's study argued.

However, as high-end operator Waitrose logged an improvement from 4.1% to 4.3% across the timeframe assessed, trends more complex than cost-cutting by consumers appear to be at work.

"This trend is not a re-run of 2008," Edward Garner, communications director at Kantar Worldpanel, said.

"But while their basket sizes remain relatively small, there is no doubt Aldi and Lidl are taking a larger portion of shoppers' spending."

Data sourced from Kantar Worldpanel; additional content by Warc staff