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Supermarket sales soar at Christmas

Irish supermarkets had their best Christmas since 2010, as consumers loosened purse strings to splash out for the festive season.

The latest data from research group Kantar Worldpanel shows that Tesco has retained its position as Ireland's top supermarket chain, despite its market share falling 2pc to 25.4pc in the 12 weeks to January 4.

That was still Tesco's best performance since May 2013.

SuperValu saw its market share nudged 0.3pc higher to 25pc, putting it in second place. Dunnes lost 0.1pc market share to give it 23.5pc.

Retailers spent a fortune trying to lure shoppers over Christmas. But while Tesco and SuperValu saw customer numbers rise during the period, the number visiting Dunnes dipped, according to Kantar.

Overall sales across all the chains in the period climbed 1.1pc. Aldi and Lidl again emerged as big winners over Christmas. Aldi saw its share of the market rise 8pc to 12.2pc, while Lidl's rose 15pc to 7.4pc.

"The battle for market share looks set to continue well into 2015," said Georgieann Harrington, insight director at Kantar Worldpanel. "With the top three retailers separated by the narrowest of margins, it really is all to play for in the coming months."

Over Christmas, sales of confectionery rose 6pc and sales of crisps and snacks were up 3pc. Soft drink sales were 2pc higher.

The findings are good news for Tesco which has been battling in the UK to retain its position.

Tesco shares jumped yesterday in London after a broker upgrade followed its long run lower over 2014.

Morgan Stanley added Tesco to its six-strong "best ideas" investment list after lifting its rating on the stock.