Grocery sales have increased in value by 3.2% compared to the same time last year, marking the 12th consecutive period in a row that total market sales have exceeded 3% and that each of the big four retailers has seen positive growth.

According to the latest grocery market share figures from Kantar Worldpanel, published for the 12 weeks to 25th February 2018, Tesco and Morrisons were “neck and neck” as the fastest growing of the big four – both clocking in sales growth of 2.7%.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, commented: “The grocery market remains in good health, spurred on by February festivities such as Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year, which lend themselves to a focus on ready meals.

“Over the month, sales of chilled ready meals which form part of a meal deal jumped by 26% as retailers offered customers the opportunity to wine and dine at home without the fuss, while Chinese ready meals also rose by more than a quarter.”

He added that Tesco “continues to perform well”, and, despite a slight fall in market share of 0.1%, the retailer experienced “particularly strong growth from its Extra superstores”.

“The varied selection of groceries on offer at these larger stores has encouraged customers to return to fuller trolley shops, with average baskets worth £31.09 – currently, the highest value in the bricks and mortar market,” McKevitt explained and added: “Holding market share steady year on year at 10.6%, Morrisons has continued its run of form, entering its 16th consecutive period of growth.

“Its premium own-label line The Best proved particularly successful, with sales rising by 20% year on year as cooked meats, vegetables and cakes and pastries tickled shoppers’ fancy.”

Looking at Sainsbury’s, 34.5% of sales at the retailer were on promotion during the past 12 weeks, in “stark comparison” to 41.9% for the rest of the big four, with overall sales growth now standing at 1.1%.

McKevitt continued: “Over the past 12 weeks Asda attracted an additional 309,000 shoppers through its doors, helping the grocer achieve its highest sales growth since June 2014, now 2.3%. At odds with its traditionally brand-focused approach, Asda has also encouraged shoppers to choose own-label alternatives, which are up by 6.4% year on year.”

Aldi and Lidl once again battled to be crowned the UK’s fastest-growing supermarket, with Aldi pipping Lidl to the post this month as sales grew by 13.9% and 13.3% respectively.

In addition, Co-op returned to growth for the first time since July 2017 with sales up 0.4%, while Iceland held share steady at 2.2% compared to this time last year, increasing sales by 1.3%.

Finally, Waitrose saw sales growth of 2.3%, having now experienced uninterrupted sales growth since March 2009, while Ocado increased market share by 0.1% to 1.2%.