Easter was later than usual this year and so was the expected sales uplift for many food retailers. Overall, the grocery multiples achieved an encouraging 7.4% growth in total sales in the four weeks to April 22 and, as expected, Asda had a strong Easter.

Asda benefited from the launch of a major new media campaign and this helped increase shopper penetration. But the spend per visit also increased to almost £32 in the weeks over the Easter holiday. Together with customers beginning to buy seasonal merchandise, this boost was enough for Asda to retake the number two position on Homescan Total Till from Sainsbury over the full 12 weeks, with a share of 15.4% compared to Sainsbury at 15.1% .

There was also some good news for Morrisons, which has increased market share from 10.3% to 10.7% since the start of the year. This is at a time when the growth in Tesco market share has begun to slow to a Total Till share of 29.1% over the past 12 weeks.

But Easter trading wasn't quite so good for certain high street retailers. Somerfield market share remains flat at around 4% (net of the Kwik Save disposals) and Iceland has yet to increase the number of shoppers visiting since the start of the year.

The UK shopper continues to benefit from food price deflation, but still shows signs of being cautious on all discretionary spend. However, Tesco and Asda in particular have convinced shoppers that value retailing can be combined with great in-store experience and a suitable depth of range.

The 18% growth in the sales of general merchandise at the major supermarkets over Easter (source Scantrack, 4 weeks to April 22) indicates that, if the range and proposition are correct, food retailers can encourage shoppers to spend more freely than on the high street.

Mike Watkins, senior manager of retailer services at ACNielsen, says: "Supermarkets continue to change customer perceptions of non foods."

He adds: "Money saving measures are increasingly important to UK shoppers and they know that hypermarkets consistently deliver on this promise."

Sainsbury's food offer continues to drive its business, while Tesco will not be immune from any resurgence in sales at both Morrisons and Asda. As the summer approaches, the battle for the wallets of the shopper can only intensify.