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Discount supermarket Aldi is to extend its trial click-and-collect shopping service to 200 more UK stores as it faces growing competition from rivals. It means about 25% of its 900 shops will offer the service by Christmas, compared with 18 now.

Aldi and discount rival Lidl only recently began trialling internet shopping and have missed out in the pandemic as more sales go online. By contrast traditional grocers such as Tesco have seen their sales accelerate.

Aldi first launched its click and collect service to customers at a single store in the Midlands in September, before extending the trial last month. Shoppers can choose from a full range of grocery items online, then collect them in their cars “contact-free” at their local stores.

The German discounter has expanded rapidly over the past decade, largely by outcompeting traditional chains on price. However, it has seen growth slow since March as online grocery shopping has doubled its share of the UK market to around 14%.

Analysts say mounting competition from traditional retailers with established online shopping services will make it harder for Aldi and Lidl to expand as quickly as they once did. For example, in the 12 weeks to May, Tesco and Sainsbury’s increased sales at a faster rate than Aldi for the first time in a decade as the pandemic spurred weekly shops and more online ordering.Aldi and Lidl have been rolling out new online options in response.

In April, Aldi started selling online food parcels to help self-isolating and vulnerable customers and has also started a rapid delivery service in partnership with Deliveroo. Lidl is offering home deliveries via a partnership with Buymie, and is trialling click and collect lockers.

Giles Hurley, boss of Aldi UK and Ireland, said its click and collect trial had been “hugely popular” so far. “By extending it to hundreds of new stores, we’re making Aldi accessible to thousands of shoppers who might never have visited one of our stores before.”

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