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The craze for “onesies” has helped Asda achieve its highest ever market share in nightwear, as Britons snap up the oversized romper suits in the run-up to Christmas.

Asda expects to sell 1m onesies – typically purchased to lounge in at home and favoured by Joey Essex from reality TV show The Only Way is Essex and comedian Keith Lemon – by Christmas.

By the middle of last week, it had sold 860,000 in 2012, with demand up 606 per cent year on year.

Novelty onesies – designed as Spiderman or Eeyore – were proving particularly popular.

Andrew Moore, chief merchandising officer at Asda, said the onesie, which Asda counted as nightwear, also epitomised the trend for blending nightwear and leisurewear, which was helping sales.

“There is definitely a crossover [between] loungewear, leisurewear and nightwear. There is a fusion taking place there,” he said.

Demand for the items had helped push Asda’s share of the nightwear market by volume from 11.2 per cent last year to 13.3 per cent this year, it said, making it Britain’s fastest growing nightwear retailer.

Mr Moore said Asda was “tantalisingly close” to Marks and Spencer’s market share by volume of about 15 per cent of this staple Christmas gift category. Primark leads on nightwear by volume with 24 per cent.

Mr Moore said nightwear had been one of Asda’s “big bets” for the so-called “golden quarter” of the key Christmas trading period.

As well as onesies, demand was strong for flat-pack pyjamas – typically a pyjama top and bottom packaged flat and tied with a ribbon – as Britons bought practical presents this year amid the economic downturn.

“It will be a record performance for us. We have put some firepower behind it,” said Mr Moore of the nightwear push.

The onesie would also not be a flash in the pan, Mr Moore predicted, and Asda was backing them to help lift its share of the nightwear market again in Christmas 2013.

“They are going to be around certainly for another year. We have got big plans for onesies next year,” said Mr Moore.

Asda was also seeing strong demand in the run-up to Christmas for festive sweaters, which have been a surprise hit this season. It could have sold “a hell of a lot more” of the festive novelty knits.

Britain’s second-biggest supermarket chain by market share plans to remain at full price in its general merchandise business until Boxing Day, beginning its sale with a “big bang” then, said Mr Moore. “We are definitely holding our nerve,” he added.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.

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