German discounter Lidl is once again the UK's fastest growing supermarket with a record market share of 5.3%, figures show.
Almost two thirds of shoppers visited a Lidl or its rival Aldi in the past three months, with the two retailers now accounting for almost £1 in every £8 spent in Britain's supermarkets, up from £1 in £25 a decade ago, Kantar Worldpanel said.
Supermarket sales overall were up 3.6% over the 12 weeks to September 10 on the same time last year, the sixth consecutive month of growth of more than 3%, largely driven by grocery inflation.
However, poor weather in August hit sales of traditional summer items, with prepared salads seeing a 6% dip and sun care down 16%.
In contrast, consumers spent almost £4 million on cold treatments in August, an increase of almost £2 million on the same month last year.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: "We haven't seen sustained market growth of this kind since May 2013.
"A 1.5% increase in the volume of goods going through the tills has contributed to this growth while the remainder of the overall sales increase is down to higher prices.
"Like-for-like grocery inflation now stands at 3.2%, slightly ahead of the headline CPI rate and down 0.1 percentage points on last month.
"The average British household spends almost £4,200 in the grocers each year so a fall in inflation, which we expect to see as we approach the end of the year, will be a welcome relief."
Lidl was the fastest growing supermarket with a sales increase of 19.2%, while Aldi's growth of 15.6% took its market share to 6.9%.
Tesco's recovery continued with sales up 2.7%, although its market share was squeezed by 0.3 percentage points to 27.8%, while Sainsbury's market share fell 0.2 percentage points to 15.7%.
Asda attracted an extra 482,000 shoppers compared with a year ago, the fastest rate by the retailer in more than three years.
Despite announcing a fall in profits last week, Waitrose's sales increased by 2.4% and it held on to a 5.3% share of the market, currently level with Lidl.
Figures from Nielsen suggest that the rising cost of household groceries means shoppers are increasingly turning to supermarket own-label products.
Spending on own-label items is up 5.5% year-on-year, nearly five times the growth seen on branded products.
Mike Watkins, Nielsen's UK head of retailer and business insight, said: "The return of inflation means shoppers are increasingly turning to supermarkets' own-label products to help manage their weekly grocery spend.
"Own-brand sales are growing across all major food retailers but fastest at the discounters - Aldi and Lidl - and at the Co-operative, Iceland, M&S and Tesco."
Save money on shopping: ten great tricks
Save money on shopping: ten great tricks
The more work you are prepared to put in, the more you stand to save. If you put your shopping list into mysupermarket.com, you can identify where each individual items is cheapest, and can technically buy every single item at its lowest possible price.
If that sounds a bit too much like hard work, a reasonable compromise is to shop at two supermarkets: once at the weekend and once mid-week. You can buy each item at the cheapest of the two shops, and save money without devoting hours to shopping.
There are several deal-sharing sites, including hotukdeals.com and latestdeals.co.uk. Most of them have a ‘freebies’ section, where you can get items completely free, and all have a section where they post fantastic deals that are well worth taking advantage of.
They will often point the way to coupons for brilliant discounts too.
The more time you have spare to spend looking for these, the more you can save.
It’s worth following your favourite brands on Facebook or Twitter. It’s also important to pick up in-house magazines, try your free local paper, and check any letters from supermarket loyalty schemes for your vouchers. If you have a Nectar card, visit the website before you shop, so you can upload the latest deals to your card.
While you’re in-store, keep your eyes peeled for promotions on packets, and on receipts. Often the deal-hunting websites will offer a short cut to many of these, but if you have the opportunity to do some legwork, you will find plenty of others.
Compare the price of your branded goods (after you use the coupon) with the cheapest supermarket alternative. If the discount makes it the cheapest option, then feel free to use it immediately.
However, if it doesn’t bring the price down below the own brand price, then don't throw it away. Hang onto the coupon, and check Mysuupermarket.com every few days to see if there’s an offer running on the brand at any time before the coupon expires. A deal plus a coupon is often the cheapest option.
Prices change all the time, but it pays to have a shopping list annotated with the usual price - or an old receipt - on hand when you are shopping. When something is on sale, compare it to the usual selling price from your list, to decide if it’s really as good value as it purports to be.
The frugal experts have decent storage areas at home, so if there’s a very special deal on washing powder or toilet paper, tins or toiletries, they can stock up for a few months at a knock-down price. It’s not generally worth doing on fresh produce, or packets with a short shelf life though, because throwing something away that’s out of date will undo all of your good work.
There can be some incredible bargains in the ‘yellow sticker’ sections of the supermarket. Most stores will have a spot for fruit and vegetable reductions, somewhere for chilled food price cuts, one for bakery products, and a final one for those with a longer shelf life that may be a bit battered, or separated from the outer packaging. Check them all for a possible discount.
The ’yellow sticker’ items will usually be reduced at least twice a day: once in the afternoon and once later in the evening. If you can wait to shop at around 7.30pm or 8pm you can get astonishing discounts.
If you want to time your shop exactly, then your best bet is to ask in store when they do their final reductions - don't be shy!
Get to know the rules around freezing ‘yellow sticker’ items, so you can buy when they are cheapest and use over the following weeks and months.
Don't assume something is perishable without checking. Everything from cheese to beansprouts is fine to freeze as long as you treat them correctly (beansprouts need blanching, chilling in ice water, and freezing immediately).
It’s never worth buying something just because it’s cheap: you also have to be able to factor it into your life. If you can't immediately think how you would use that over-ripe avocado, a pack of cut-price tongue or kippers, then don't buy them.