Asda still in second
Tesco remained top of the grocers, with a market share of 29.2 per cent and growth of 8 per cent - compared to an overall market growth of 7.5 per cent - in the 12 weeks to April 21, according to market research firm Nielsen.

Sales were strong at Asda, which had a market share of 15.7 per cent and growth of 10 per cent in the first quarter. Sainsbury's has grown 8 per cent year on year, with a market share of 15.1 per cent. Waitrose also performed ahead of the market, with a growth increase of 10.5 per cent and a market share of 3.7 per cent.

Nielsen retail services senior manager Mike Watkins said: 'Waitrose benefited from the tendency consumers have to trade up over the Easter holiday period. Asda's performance was also notable. Whilst the spend per visit in Asda is flat, due in part to its strong price and promotional offer, performance has been driven by households now shopping at Asda more frequently.'

Morrison's growth was modest at 4 per cent, with a market share of 10.4 per cent. However, Watkins said: 'Each buyer spent on average 9 per cent more at Morrison's in the 12 weeks to April 21 [compared to the same period last year]. The recovery continues and Easter was good.'

He added: 'Within the top four grocery retailers, Morrison's has the most growth potential for the rest of this year.'

Easter trading was strong for fresh foods and health and beauty, which were both up 11 per cent. However, general merchandising was slightly disappointing, with a rise of only 7 per cent.