Tesco and Morrisons lost market share in the last quarter as slow sales growth across the food sector compounded fierce competition in grocery.

Kantar Worldpanel data for the 12 weeks to February 2 showed Morrisons’ sales slowed 2.5% and its market share fell from 11.8% to 11.3% year on year.

Tesco’s sales slowed by 0.4% and its market share fell to 29.2% from 30% as shoppers tightened their belts in January. Asda’s market share slipped to 17.3% from 17.7%, despite its sales edging up 0.5%.

Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and discounters Aldi and Lidl continued to outperform the wider grocery market, which grew 2.4% - the slowest industry growth since 2005.

Sainsbury’s recorded the strongest growth of the big four grocers, with sales up 2.7% and market share up from 17% to 17.1%.

Farm Foods, Aldi and Lidl achieved the strongest growth, as sales rose 43.9%, 32% and 17.2% respectively as shoppers sought out bargains.

At the premium end of the market, Waitrose’s sales rose 5.6% and it now holds a 4.9% market share, up from 4.8% last year.

The Co-op, the UK’s fifth largest grocer, recorded a 0.3% edge up in sales and it holds a 6.1% market share. Iceland’s sales rose 3.1% and its market share edged up marginally to 2.3%.

The figures come as the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor today reported that food sales fell 1.2% year-on-year in the three months from November.

Kantar Worldpanel retail analyst Fraser McKevitt said: “Grocery market growth slipped slightly to 2.4%, indicating that brighter economic prospects are yet to be seen in the nation’s shopping trolleys. The slowest industry growth since 2005 made it hard for many of the biggest retailers to increase sales. However, shoppers felt the benefit as grocery inflation fell to only 2.1%.”

Fraser continues: “Mike Coupe, who will be taking over from Sainsbury’s current chief executive Justin King in July, will be inheriting the retailer in good shape as it continues to be the fastest growing of the big four – an unbroken run that stretches back nearly two years according to our reporting.”

He added: “Double digit growth helped Aldi and Lidl to gain market share, as shopper habits evolve from using the so called ‘discounters’ to pick up a few items in between shops to them being considered an acceptable place for the weekly shopping trip.  Aldi and Lidl together now account for 7.3% of sales, up 1.3% percentage points from last year.”