More than 40% of UK households bought hot cross buns in the first quarter of the year, latest grocery figures from analysts Kantar have revealed.

That’s despite a longer lead-up to Easter, which falls on Sunday 21 April – the period covered by the data is 12 weeks to 24 March 2019, meaning there is a month’s worth of sales still to be counted.

NPD is likely one of the driving forces behind Brits’ appetite for hot cross buns as the retailers focus on new and exciting flavours such as an Orange, Cranberry & Jasmine Green Tea variant at Waitrose, and Triple Berry from Sainsbury’s.

In February, Waitrose reported a 40% increase in hot cross bun sales compared to a year ago, with its biggest ever range and unique flavours contributing to the growth.

A late Easter and Mother’s Day falling outside of Kantar’s reporting period have impacted wider grocery sales, contributing to the overall market growing at its slowest rate since March 2018, with year-on-year supermarket sales up 1.4%.

Aldi bucked this trend, securing a new record high of 8% market share as its sales grew 10.6%.

“Thirteen million households visited Aldi at least once in the past 12 weeks – now more than those shopping at Morrisons,” said Fraser McKevitt, consumer head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar. He also noted potential for the discounter in London, as its Aldi’s fastest-growing region, but also where its market share is currently the lowest.

Lidl was the second-fastest growing, with sales increasing 5.8% and market share up 0.3 percentage points to 5.6%. Particularly strong growth was noted in bakery, biscuits and frozen food.

Only Sainsbury’s and Morrisons suffered losses, with sales down 1.8% and 0.1%, respectively. This loss, coupled with a fair performance by Asda, has seen Asda overtake Sainsbury’s to become the second-largest retailer in Great Britain, with a 15.4% market share.

“Despite being overtaken by Asda in main store sales, Sainsbury’s remains the biggest seller of food and drink out of the two retailers and these figures do not include Argos,” added McKevitt.