Safeway chief executive Carlos Criado-Perez says the company is determined to remain independent in light of market talk of a bid from Asda, but the retailer's share of trade continues to fall, placing it in a vulnerable position.
Our TradeTrak figures show Safeway down 0.2% on the last quarter, with a year-on-year decline of 0.7%. This is despite the reformatting of over a third of its selling area as it seeks to pull in more customers.
In this week's second quarter trading statement Criado-Perez said sales at reformatted stores were strong and almost half the estate would be refurbished by the end of this year. With like-for-like sales up 1.1% for the 16 weeks to October 12, he said Safeway would deliver solid interim results next month.
Safeway's rumoured pursuer Asda is the only one of the big four to increase market share in the year to date, up 0.6% according to the data. But it had a flat quarter, joining Morrisons, Waitrose and Iceland in seeing no market growth over the past 12 weeks. Tesco inched forward by 0.1% but its year-on-year figure shows no change.
Loyalty scheme Nectar has failed to make an impact on Sainsbury's market share in its first month, with the company recording the biggest decline quarter on quarter (-0.5%).
But, according to Sainsbury's second quarter statement last week, it has had a positive effect on sales. According to Sir Peter Davis: "Our sales performance against the market has improved in recent weeks."
Like-for-like sales growth was 2.5% and Sainsbury expects a figure of 2.8% for the half.