Sir; The ACNielsen figures quoted in TradeTrak, March 16, p22, are seriously misleading as they stand and need careful interpretation. They take no account of the additional overall selling space which has become available. In the past 12 months, 2.2m sq ft of new space has been put down of which Safeway's share is slightly less than 4% compared to Tesco's 48%, Sainsbury's 24% and Asda's 24%. If you relate our sales growth to new space, however, a different picture emerges. According to TNS, in the 12 weeks to the end of February, out of a total sales growth for the top four retailers of £710m, Safeway had a 6.6% share, Tesco 37%, Sainsbury 25% and Asda 38% Indexing sales growth to space growth suggests that Safeway got the best results from the limited amount of new space we put down. The figures are: Safeway 174; Tesco 77; Sainsbury 79; and Asda 159. While we are currently engaged in an intensive programme of store refits and extensions, our major competitors are now benefiting from an increasing maturity of openings and extensions. Another potentially misleading aspect of the ACNielsen data is that they are comparing the 12 weeks to end February (which includes the Christmas trading period) with the 12 weeks to end November. It is a well-established feature of Safeway's trading pattern that we suffer some temporary loss of footfall in the run-up to Christmas because of our relatively high proportion of medium-to-small stores. At Christmas, some consumers tend to shop at larger stores in the belief they will have a wider range of products to choose from. The next set of ACNielsen data will exclude the Christmas data and you will therefore see a progressive improvement in Safeway's position. As the reformatting programme reaches critical mass over the next year, the impact will be increasingly evident in ACNielsen data. Kevin Hawkins Director of communications Safeway The Grocer responds: ACNielsen only tracks shoppers' expenditure and the figures do not include an analysis on growth of new space. The periods are clearly stated and as this is a monthly feature, we are showing continous tracking. Switching analysis information was used this month to purely show the change in expenditure between retailers. All editorial on the charts is written by The Grocer. {{LETTERS }}