Data from Kantar Worldpanel for the 12 weeks to 27 March (Easter Sunday) showed sales up 1.1% on the same period last year - but in 2015 this did not include the week of Easter, which fell on 5 April.
A small increase in shopper numbers suggests Tesco could return to growth in the next few months; welcome news after 12 months in decline
Separate Nielsen Scantrack figures suggest sales during the key two week trading period up to Easter weekend fell 2% on last year.
Discounters Aldi and Lidl continue to achieve huge sales growth. Aldi’s sales in the 12 weeks to 27 March were up 14.4%, while Lidl’s rose even more sharply, by 17.7%, said Kantar. The two retailers now have market shares of 6% and 4.4% respectively.
Their growth, which is largely due to their low-priced offer, has forced the big four supermarkets to cut prices to compete, and the effects of this are still being felt - like-for-like prices are 1.5% lower than last year, said Kantar.
Among the big four, Asda has the bleakest outlook, with sales dropping 3.9% in the 12 week period. Morrisons was slightly ahead, with a fall of 2.4%. Sainsbury’s, meanwhile, is weathering the storm, with a 1.2% uplift - suggesting shoppers have not been deterred by its decision in February to ditch multibuy deals.
And market leader Tesco may be about to turn a corner. Sales are down in Kantar’s data, but only by 0.2%, while Nielsen data for the 12 weeks to 26 March shows 0.1% sales growth.
"A small increase in shopper numbers suggests Tesco could return to growth in the next few months; welcome news after 12 months in decline," said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel.