Sainsbury’s has recorded the strongest growth of the big four retailers, the latest monthly by market research firm Nielsen data has revealed.

Data for the 12 weeks to April 27 showed Sainsbury’s sales rose 5.3% ahead of Asda which recorded a 1.9% increase and Tesco and Morrisons which were up 1.2%. Morrisons has trailed its archrivals in recent months after losing ground over Christmas.

Aldi reported the strongest growth in the grocery sector, with sales up 21.1% ahead of 11.5% growth at Waitrose and 5.4% at Marks & Spencer.

The Co-operative was the laggard of the sector, recording growth of 0.4% in the period.

Nielsen’s UK head of retailer insight Mike Watkins: “With the absence of a national event to boost sales in the second quarter, the industry will look to the weather and well-executed promotions to help growth.

“The weather in April was unhelpful for sales and ‘spend on offer’ fell slightly to 34% of sales. While this level is still relatively high over the longer term, it’s lower than its peak of 37% in November 2011, which suggests that some promotional spend may now be being diverted into more regular vouchers and coupon programmes.”