Nearly half of consumers (49.1%) are planning to buy their Christmas groceries this year from either Aldi or Lidl, despite competition from the ‘Big Four’ supermarkets.

Research from leading online reward programmes provider Webloyalty suggests that the two discounters, along with Marks & Spencer, will post the highest growth in market share this Christmas.

Lidl is predicted to enjoy the biggest gains, with a 3.9% year-on-year increase to 22.4% of consumers planning to use the retailer for festive grocery shopping.

Aldi is also expected to see an increase of 2.2% to 26.7%, leapfrogging Asda and closing the gap on Tesco and Sainsbury’s, who remain the supermarkets of choice for the festive food shop.

The Christmas Trends Report, commissioned by Webloyalty and carried out by retail research agency Conlumino, found that Asda is likely to shed the greatest market share - a 2.4% decrease compared to Christmas 2015, which will leave it languishing behind both Marks & Spencer and Aldi. Morrisons, the smallest of the Big Four by market share, is expected to see a small 1% increase in consumers planning to use the retailer for Christmas grocery shopping.

The research project, now in its third year, asked more than 2,000 consumers about their shopping expectations and habits, providing retailers with insight into the Christmas and holiday trading period.

This Christmas, food and drink spending is likely to rise by 1.4% to £5,356 billion. The modest growth is helped by inflationary pressure, but will be held in check by fierce competition among the retailers.

The appearance of Amazon as a grocery retailer in the report for the first time reflects its ambitions as an online food retailer through its innovative partnership with Morrisons. With an expected 1.7% of consumers planning to use Amazon for festive grocery shopping this year, the retailer is closing the gap quickly on online rival Ocado, which is predicted to drop 0.1% to 1.9% of market share this Christmas.

The research by Webloyalty suggests that consumers are becoming increasingly in favour of online Christmas food shopping. The proportion of people set to shop online for Christmas groceries this year has risen by 24.6% - 10.4% plan to buy all their groceries online and 33.6% are likely to buy some online, up from 9.8% and 25.5% respectively last year.

The average family spend on festive groceries is set to be £159 this year. No doubt due to uncertain economic times in the wake of Brexit, only a small proportion of consumers (17.4%) are planning to spend more than £200 this year on their Christmas food and drink.

Guy Chiswick, Managing Director of Webloyalty, Northern Europe commented: “Our research reflects the growing impact of Aldi and Lidl who are successfully appealing to a wider range of shoppers thanks to the upgrade in the quality of their food and drink. This is particularly noticeable at Christmas when they are no longer outperformed by the luxury offerings of the Big Four and are enjoying a surge in popularity.”