"The most keenly fought battle has been the tussle for our service award. But there can be only one winner..."

Congratulations to Asda which, as you will see from this week&'s issue, has clinched The Grocer 33 award for price for an incredible ninth year in a row.
True, this year&'s battle with Tesco has been closer than ever, with only pennies now separating the two arch rivals. And it will be fascinating to see how the chains have fared when we sit down this time next year to put together our tenth anniversary review of our shopping survey, particularly as we will be making a few interesting changes to The Grocer 33 - but more on that next week.
Winning the 2006 award will be a great morale booster for Asda, which has been working hard to rebuild its credentials as the price leader in the UK grocery market (and finding itself accused, by us among others, of having gone a bit bananas for some of the ways it has set about doing that).
However, The Grocer 33 is about much more than price. We also use our mystery shoppers to benchmark how the country&'s biggest retailers are performing when it comes to service and availability.
Arguably, the most keenly fought battle in our survey has been the tussle between Waitrose, Sainsbury and Morrisons for our service award. All three have excelled during the past 12 months. But there can be only one winner - and it&'s Morrisons, a whisker ahead of Sainsbury. A remarkable result when you consider all the recent upheaval in that business.
Finally, our prize for the retailer that is best for availability goes to Waitrose. It has reported a pretty impressive 98.4% availability figure for the past 12 months against an industry average of 97.3%.
We&'ll be presenting these prizes at The Grocer Golds next week - along with all our other awards. So make sure you pick up our 17 June issue for news on that.