* UK grocery market sales growth 1.7 pct in 12 weeks to May
* Lowest growth for the overall market for 11 years
* Tesco sales down 3.1 pct, Morrisons down 3.9 pct
LONDON, June 3 Sales at Britain's biggest grocer
Tesco and at No.4 player Morrisons continued to
slide over the past 12 weeks, while Asda and Sainsbury's
achieved growth in a weak overall market, industry data
showed on Tuesday.
The data from market researcher Kantar Worldpanel for the 12
weeks to May 25 showed that growth for the overall grocery
market slowed to 1.7 percent - the lowest level in 11 years.
British consumers are shopping around to save money and are
wasting less, shying away from big weekly shops and buying
little and often in local convenience stores or online.
Tesco, Asda and Morrisons have all pledged to cut prices,
while Sainsbury's has vowed to remain competitive, raising
analysts' concerns about a possible price war hitting earnings
across the industry.
Kantar said price cuts had also led to another drop in the
level of grocery price inflation to 1.2 percent - the lowest
level since May 2010.
Tesco's sales fell 3.1 percent year on year, giving it a
market share of 29 percent, down from 30.5 percent, while sales
at Morrisons were down 3.9 percent, with its market share
falling to 10.9 percent from 11.6 percent a year ago.
Tesco will publish first-quarter results on Wednesday, with
analysts forecasting a sales fall of between 3.5 percent and 4.1
percent at stores open for more than a year.
Shares in Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury's were all down by
about 1 percent in morning trade.
Asda, the British arm of Wal-Mart, surpassed its
rivals with market-beating sales growth of 2.4 percent. It was
also the only leading grocer to increase market share, edging up
to 17.1 percent from 17 percent a year ago.
Sainsbury's sales grew 0.9 percent, but its market share
slipped to 16.5 percent from 16.7 percent.
BIG FOUR SQUEEZED
All of Britain's big four grocers are being squeezed between
hard discounters Aldi and Lidl and
Waitrose and Marks & Spencer at the premium
end of the sector.
Kantar said Lidl achieved a record share of 3.6 percent in
the 12-week period and its highest ever year-on-year sales
growth, at 22.7 percent. Similarly, Aldi's sales were up by 35.9
percent and the company retained the record 4.7 percent market
share it reached in the previous 12-week period.
Sales at Waitrose grew by 6.1 percent and it maintained its
record market share of 5.1 percent.
Sales growth and market share (percent) - Kantar Worldpanel
Market Market Sales,
share, share, pct
12wks to 12wks to change
May 25, May 26,
Tesco 29.0 30.5 -3.1
Asda 17.1 17.0 2.4
Sainsbury 16.5 16.7 0.9
Morrison 10.9 11.6 -3.9
Co-operati 6.0 6.2 -0.7
Waitrose 5.1 4.9 6.1
Aldi 4.7 3.5 35.9
Lidl 3.6 3.0 22.7
Iceland 2.0 2.0 1.8
(Reporting by James Davey and Neil Maidment; Editing by David