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Although there are mixed signals emerging from the UK economic performance, retail sales are holding up well, if the findings of the Kantar World panel are anything to go by. In its recently released analysis of fourth quarter supermarket trading (including the Christmas period), total supermarket sales rose by 3.8% compared with the same period in 2016. With UK inflation averaging about 2.5%, this means that real growth is apparent in the food and grocery aisles. December 22 saw sales of £747m, putting it firmly in the history books as the busiest shopping day ever. However, this broad figure masks some very important differences within the supermarket sector. Among the large established chains, Tesco was the clear winner, increasing its sales by 3% and leaving its main rivals — being Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s — well behind, all on about 2% growth. While Tesco will draw some satisfaction on easily beating its rivals, German discounters Aldi and Lidl make its growth look puny....

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