Sainsbury is the biggest spender on advertising so far this year, according to the latest data from Nielsen Media Research. Although Sainsbury's ad spend for the three months to the end of March was down 15.8% on the period last year, its spending still eclipsed rivals' at £9.97m compared with Tesco's £7.3m (up 30% on the previous year), Asda's 4.23m and Iceland's £2.7m. Overall spend for food retailers in the period was up 5.3% to £33.6m. The print figures in April tell a similar story, with Sainsbury's spend down 45.2% on the previous year but way ahead of the competition at £1.28m compared with Tesco's £0.9m, Lidl's £0.8m and Waitrose's £0.49m. The big movers and shakers however, were Lidl and Safeway, each more than doubling their ad spend for the first three months of the year. The fifth biggest spender overall on the list, Lidl, invested more than £1.6m on ads, overtaking Safeway, Somerfield, Waitrose, Morrisons and Aldi to promote deals at its 350-strong estate. In April, the hard discounter's huge spend on print advertising propelled it to third place, behind Tesco and Sainsbury. There has been a flurry of TV advertising this month, with Morrisons, Sainsbury and Somerfield all launching new campaigns. But a Sainsbury spokeswoman said this was more a coincidence than evidence of a major hike in advertising spends: "Over the year, our spend will be roughly the same as last year." {{NEWS }}