Christmas sales have closed the gap between the big four retailers, with a difference in sales growth of just 0.9% between them all.

As Tesco, Morrisons, Asda and Sainsbury’s compete in the ongoing price war, figures from Kantar Worldpanel have shown what it called the smallest gap in sales performance it has ever recorded.

In terms of statistics, Sainsbury’s came out top within the big four, with sales falling 0.7% compared to Tesco, which fell 1.2% and Asda and Morrisons, which both fell 1.6%.

Fraser McKevitt head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “Sales at Sainsbury’s fell by 0.7% over the latest period, but in a tough market this was the best performance among the big four supermarkets. Sainsbury’s traditionally performs well at Christmas, and its seasonal boost this year means it is now Britain’s second-largest grocer for the first time since it lost the position in 2003. Given the seasonal nature of this share increase, there is a high likelihood that Asda will retake the number two spot later in the year.”

As the trend for buying from discounters continues, Aldi and Lidl have grown by 22.6% and 15.1%, to finish the year with market shares of 4.8% and 3.5% respectively. 

Kantar said that Christmas sales had given a welcome boost to the retailers.

McKevitt continued: “Shoppers chose to buy a little bit more this Christmas compared with last year, a trend that has pushed sales growth up to 0.6%. This is low in historical terms, but a rally for the supermarkets compared with recent months.