UK supermarket retailer Safeway and frozen food retailer Iceland have been losing out to supermarket chains Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury in the all-important and lucrative Christmas period.

Unpublished data showing the total till takes of all the grocers, including non-food and petrol sales, show that Safeway and Iceland are the only big supermarket chains doing worse this year compared to the same period of 2001, reported the Observer.

"Tesco has added about 1.5m sq ft and Sainsbury's about 800,000 sq ft to their selling space since this time last year," Safeway spokesman Kevin Hawkins was quoted as saying by the national newspaper. "We were bound to lose out. This time of year is always bad for comparisons because we and Sainsbury's have smaller stores than Tesco and Asda. Customers' perception is that they want big stores to do their big shop. The real measure is profitability."