Tesco has continued to stem its declines, but Asda and Morrisons have tumbled further, according to Kantar Worldpanel's latest figures for the supermarket sector.
Sales at Tesco fell 0.8 per cent – meaning its performance is still well below the sector average of 0.5 per cent growth – but a relative improvement on last month's decline of 1.6 per cent.The retailer's market share has dropped from 28.7 per cent to 28.4 per cent.
However investors were pleased with this improved performance: Tesco's share price was up 1.7 per cent in early trading, the second-best performing stock on the FTSE 100 this morning.
Asda and Morrisons were the weakest performing grocers in the sector, with sales down four per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively. Asda's market share has fallen from 17 per cent last year to 16.2 per cent as of last week. Morrisons' has dropped from 11 per cent to 10.6 per cent.
Sainsbury's remains the only one of the big four actually in growth, with total spend rising 0.5 per cent in the 12 weeks to 28 February, strengthening its position as the UK's second biggest supermarket.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “Tesco’s positive run continues as its overall sales fell by 0.8 per cent – halving last month’s decline of 1.6 per cent. A renewed focus on price promotions has helped stem the flow of shoppers leaving the retailer despite the closure of around 50 stores in the last year.
“Morrisons is also operating fewer stores than last year which continues to contribute to its falling sales – this month down by 3.2 per cent with market share dipping to 10.6 per cent. Online, Morrisons’ sales are growing strongly, a trend set to continue in the coming months as the retailer converts more existing in-store shoppers to its e-commerce channel.
"Despite being a relative latecomer to online grocery, Morrisons’ forthcoming tie-up with Amazon could provide another boost to the business.”
German grocers Aldi and Lidl produced the strongest growth in the sector, up 15.1 per cent and 18.9 per cent respectively. They now comfortably account for 10 per cent of the total supermarket spend in the UK.
The Co-operative also experienced a good 12 weeks, with sales up 1.9 per cent. Waitrose had a less impressive period, with sales up 0.2 per cent, although this was enough to allow the John Lewis Partnership-owned grocer to maintain its market share at 5.2 per cent.