Further proof that the Tesco grocery juggernaut may finally be slowing comes this week with the first publication of The Grocer's TradeTrak market share figures in association with ACNielsen. For the 12-week period ending December 29, Tesco's share of grocery spending stood at 22.5% ­ still six points clear of Sainsbury. But the figure is exactly the same as it was for the same period last year. And it is 0.3% lower than the preceding 12-week period. On an annualised basis, Tesco managed to grow its share of trade by almost 1% between December 1999 and the end of 2000, according to ACNielsen data. For the 52 weeks to the end of last December, Tesco's share grew by just 0.1% year on year. Publication of these figures comes as The City digests Tesco's Christmas trading statement, which saw the chain post numbers that analysts said were "at the lower end of high expectations". Tesco's 4.6% like-for-like growth in the UK allowed Sainsbury to claim it had won the Christmas battle with like- for-like growth of 5%. Sainsbury executives found it hard to conceal their delight on the day the Tesco figures came out. Group chief executive Sir Peter Davis told the City Food Lecture: "It's been a very good day for us." Analysts agree that Tesco is now facing tougher competition than at any time in the past two years. One said: "For the first time in years Sainsbury has outperformed Tesco on a like-for- like basis and there is a real chance that Tesco will struggle to maintain its supremacy this year. Tesco easily outperformed the competition last year, but things are beginning to change." Another agreed: "It's getting harder for Tesco to keep ahead of the competition, particularly with Asda reinvigorating its offer and Sainsbury's refurbishments. "I fancy Sainsbury to continue its momentum and give Tesco a hard time." However, our TradeTrak figures show that the real winners in the 12 weeks to December 29 were actually Asda and Morrisons who both grew market share by 0.3% year on year. Asda's market share of 13.6% was also 0.6% higher than the previous 12-week period. The Wal-Mart subsidiary this week claimed its food sales grew by more than twice the rest of its rivals over Christmas. Chief operating officer Tony DeNunzio said: "We achieved the lowest prices, shortest queues and the products available when our customers wanted them." l See TradeTrak ­ page 22 {{NEWS }}