Supermarkets enjoyed shoppers’ return to premium foods at Christmas, according to research house TNS Worldpanel.

For the 12 weeks ending December 27, TNS said grocers reported confident consumer spending.

TNS Worldpanel spokesman Edward Garner said: “Christmas is traditionally a time when shoppers prioritise the quality of food over value – but the recession put a stop to this in 2008. We are now seeing signs of a return to more traditional Christmas purchasing habits with a growth in premium ranges, particularly Tesco Finest, over the festive period.”

TNS reported Waitrose and Sainsbury’s saw higher-than-expected sales, with Waitrose recording its highest growth in both market share and turnover since August 2005, while Sainsbury’s increased its market share for the 11th consecutive report.

Morrisons finished a good year with a turnover increase of 10.3%, driven by a strong loyalty promotion at Christmas. The report said Tesco and Asda have both reaped the rewards of popular alcohol promotions over Christmas.

However, the hard discounters have suffered, indicating they have fallen out of favour with the consumer. Aldi has maintained its share of the grocery market, but not fared nearly so well as last year when it recorded a 25% growth. Lidl has shown the lowest growth for seven years and has lost market share for the first time since March 2004.

TNS also said grocery price inflation has further decreased, standing at 2.6%.