Safeway's strong sales performance is starting to show signs of slowdown, according to a top analyst. Reporting on the latest Superpanel data from Taylor Nelson Sofres, David McCarthy of Schroder Salomon Smith Barney says Safeway's market share fell by 0.1% month on month in the four weeks to July 23. Its market share is up 0.2% year on year at 10.2%. And at its agm in July, the company announced like for like growth running at 5% in the first 12 weeks of the new year, including volume growth of 11.1%. But the TNS data shows Safeway's market share peaking in May when it hit 10.5%. McCarthy says in a briefing note: "The market share gains made in the early months of chief executive Carlos Criado-Perez's aggressive price strategy are now proving more elusive. This is as we had expected, for as the anniversary of the campaign approaches, Safeway will encounter much tougher comparatives and the novelty will begin to diminish." The fact Safeway will be opening fewer new stores will also create headaches. Last month's TNS figures also support the claim from Somerfield's new managerment that like for likes have stabilised with market share rising 0.3% month on month for the group (including Kwik Save). But that does not impress the analyst, who says: "In the last year, the group has lost market share almost equivalent to Iceland's total." McCarthy also has some strong words for Sainsbury, which saw its market share slip to 18% in July ­ down 0.1% month on month and down 0.8% year on year. "Last month's market share was the lowest in memory. This month's is even worse...Sainsbury continues to lose market share." Tesco saw its market share slide 0.7% month on month to 24.5% after breaking through the 25% barrier for the first time in June. But it is up 0.7% year on year. Asda put in another solid performance, with a 0.3% rise month on month. Although McCarthy says the Wal-Mart subsidiary has not been able to maintain the momentum of the second half of 1999, it continues to close the gap on Sainsbury with a market share now at 16.6%. {{NEWS }}