Britain’s Tesco breaks its downward slide

London – Tesco’s fortunes are starting to improve, if the latest wave of supermarket sales data is anything to go by.

The UK’s biggest supermarket slowed its rate of decline, cutting it in half, in the 12 weeks to 28 February, dropping just 0.8 percent. By comparison, last year sales dropped 1.6 percent, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

Read: Sainsbury’s did better than rivals – data

Similar results were recorded by rival supermarket data company Nielsen, which said sales at Tesco fell 0.5 percent. Analysts suggested that once store closures by the supermarket are factored in that means sales have probably been rising.

David McCarthy, a retail analyst at HSBC, said: “It appears that on an underlying basis, Tesco sales are slightly positive. Once we take account of deflation (and we believe that Tesco has higher deflation than most), volume growth is well into positive territory.”

He added that this is good news for suppliers, which would have seen volumes rise, especially since Tesco has cut down on the number of different lines of each product it stocks.

Sainsbury’s remained the only supermarket among the Big Four, which also include Tesco, Asda and Morrisons, to see a sales rise – up 0.5 percent – for the eighth consecutive period in a row, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

This is the longest run of continuous growth by any Big Four supermarket since March 2013, however, the supermarket has been opening more stores than its rivals, which would help increase sales.

Sainsbury’s continues to open around one convenience store, under its Local banner, a week, with no signs of slowing down.

Kantar Worldpanel added that total sales across all supermarkets was up 0.5 percent – the fastest growth since October – despite the price war continuing to bite, sending average prices 1.6 percent lower.

Asda’s fall from grace continued unabated, as sales plunged 4 percent, according to Kantar Worldpanel.