Unlike the decreases in market share seen in 2003, Sainsbury has at last seen a small increase from 15.3% two months ago to 15.5% for the 12 weeks ending November 7, according to the latest TNS Superpanel data.

The Safeway fascia continues to decline rapidly as expected, to a share of 5.5% compared to 8.8% a year ago. Equally, the Morrisons has improved from a 6% share to 7.4%, but the combined Morrisons-Safeway operation continues to lose share, and it now stands at 13.2% compared to 14.8% a year ago.

Edward Garner, communication director at TNS Superpanel, said: “It has to be remembered that some decline is inevitable with the divestment of the 52 stores as required by The Competition Commission. The key questions remains - when will this decline halt and the proven merits of the Morrisons strategy bear fruit?”

Again Tesco has reached a record share and it now holds 28.3% of the British grocery business. A record share for Waitrose has also been recorded, and the retailer now holds 3.6% of the market.