Waitrose, the high-end UK grocer, has seen its sales rise slower than only Morrisons in recent weeks, according to the latest data from analysts TNS Worldpanel.

Along with MARKS AND SPENCER, Waitrose has had tricky periods as the UK economy entered recession but, today (21 July), TNS said the retailer’s sales climbed 8.2% in the 12 weeks to 12 July.

The analysts said the conversion of former Somerfield sites to Waitrose outlets in the aftermath of The Co-operative Group takeover, as well as a private-label push had helped the retailer.

“Recent store openings of former Somerfield sites have contributed to this performance. The highly publicised Essentials range and increased focus on promotions and value have clearly resonated with shoppers in a time of recession,” Fraser McKevitt, analytical consultant at TNS, said.

Of the mainstream retailers, only Morrisons enjoyed faster growth, with sales up 9.5%. The UK’s fourth-largest food retailer now accounts for 11.6% of grocery sales.

Asda and Sainsbury‘s both saw their respective shares of the UK grocery market rise by 0.3%, TNS said. Wal-Mart-owned Asda grew sales by 8.1%, while Sainsbury’s sales were up 7.7%.

Tesco, meanwhile, increased its sales by 5.7%, behind the overall market, which rose by 5.9%.

Food inflation stood at 5.9%, down from the 7% rate for the 12 weeks to 14 June.

McKevitt added that sales at discount stores “again slowed slightly”, although Aldi and LIDL “remain ahead of the sector average”, with sales up 8.3% and 6.8% respectively.