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In the intensely competitive UK grocery retail sector Asda has managed to hold onto its 0.3% market share lead over Sainsbury’s remaining the UK’s second largest supermarket during the 12-weeks ended 23 April, the latest figures released by TNS reveal.

The gap between Asda, which commands 16.3% of the market, and Sainsbury’s, which has a 16% market share, has remained the same over the last two periods –  “evidence,” Ed Garner of TNS suggests, “of the intensity of competition in the grocery market.”

However, Garner emphasises, Asda’s time at number two may be dwindling. “The Asda year-on-year growth rate has improved to 3% – in line with the Total Market but Sainsbury remains ahead with 5% growth.  If this situation continues, the gap will close.”

Tesco further extended its lead in the market, increasing its share by 8% – sluggish compared to the retailer’s previous growth rate, but still ahead of its nearest rivals.

The decline of Morrisons has continued to slow as the company returns to stability after the costly purchase of Safeway. Morrisons market share was down 4% – the company’s best performance for the past 21 periods of TNS reporting.

Following the sale of most of its outlets by the Tchenguiz consortium, Kwik Save has seen a sharp 34% drop in sales. This has reduced its share from 1.8% to 1.2% of the total market.