Supermarket Asda lost out to its three main rivals last month as it succumbed to freezing weather and fierce competition, figures showed today.
The group - owned by US firm Wal-Mart - was the only one of the "big four" players to see market share fall last month, to 16.9 per cent from 17 per cent a year ago, according to the latest data from industry researcher Kantar Worldpanel.
It was the first time Asda has seen a dip in market share for more than two years.
The group was outshone by smaller rival Morrisons, which benefited from a leap in market share from 11.8 per cent to a record high of 12.5 per cent .
Tesco and Sainsbury's also managed to hold firm, with their share of the sector rising by 0.1 and 0.2 percentage points to 16.3 per cent and 30.5 per cent respectively.
But John Lewis Partnership's resurgent chain Waitrose was once more the star performer of the major retailers after an equally bumper December.
Its till roll spend raced 17.5 per cent higher, beating a 10.6 per cent rise by Morrisons - although both were far higher than the 5.2 per cent industry average.
Ed Garner, communications director at Kantar Worldpanel, said: "This month's figures show that the major retailers cannot afford to rest on their laurels in the post-festive period."
Asda launched its first ever discount coupon promotion at the end of January to woo shoppers back into its stores after a tough start to the year.
It said its network of larger out-of-town stores was hit particularly hard by the snow and icy weather, as consumers sought convenience stores closer to home.
The supermarket is yet to release its Christmas sales figures, which are due when its US owner reports on February 18.
Tesco has also been leading a tough battle with its Clubcard, doubling points and sending out pre-Christmas mail shots.
The discounters appear to have been left out in the cold by the mainstream groups as they continue to suffer from an increase in consumer confidence.
Aldi's market share fell to 2.9 per cent from 3 per cent and Lidl saw a drop from 2.3 per cent to 2.2 per cent.Reuse content