Tesco led sales growth among the big four supermarkets in the 12 weeks ending 4 November, but the Co-op Group suffered a decline in sales, according to Nielsen’s latest figures.

Overall UK grocery sales increased by 3.1% in the four weeks ending 4 November. Excluding the discounters, sales increased by 1.7% and volumes fell by -0.5%.

In the 12-week period, Tesco’s sales were up by +2.7%, Sainsbury’s +2.1%, Morrisons 1.8%, and Asda +1.7%. However, the Co-op saw sales decrease by 0.7% compared with last year.

Nielsen’s head of retailer and business insight, Mike Watkins, said: “Tesco has maintained good momentum ahead of the all-important Christmas trading season. They continued to attract new shoppers over the summer, who visited more often, giving a further boost to growth in the last month.

“At the same time, like all the supermarkets, they’ve had to tread a fine line around holding back at passing on cost price increases to compete with the discounters. Two-thirds of households now visit Tesco at least once a month and all eyes will be on whether the number one retailer can pull off another strong final quarter.”

Watkins believes the outlook for improving sales growth in the run-up to Christmas is positive, but much will depend on “how successful the current advertising campaigns will be in encouraging people to spend more at the supermarkets as shoppers are now experiencing ‘peak inflation’ and a squeeze on discretionary spend is already being felt by many non-food retailers”.

He added: “With Aldi and Lidl also looking to gain market share in premium food and drink, price competition across food retailers will remain intense as they compete for the Christmas purse.”