As grocery sales are growing at their slowest pace for 10 years, figures from property agent CBRE reveal that the amount of new space proposed for UK supermarkets has fallen to its lowest level since September 2008.

The research found that the ‘Big Four’ – Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco – cut back on their expansion plans by 30% during the 12 months to March 2014. 

Meanwhile, discounters Lidl and Aldi, which are both currently enjoying record sales, proposed to double the number of their smaller retail stores over the next decade.

Christopher Keen, CBRE’s retail director, said: “The reason for the shift to smaller stores is in part a response to changing consumer shopping patterns but also because they require lower capital expenditure to deliver, have less impact on the trade of existing stores and are easier to secure planning permission for.”

At the end of March this year, 2.47m sq ft of shop space was under construction, compared with 2.95m sq ft a year earlier, said CBRE.