Lidl, the German discounter, has posted the strongest sales growth for the 12 weeks ending September 13 while Tesco returned to growth for the first time since March 2013, the latest figures from Kantar show.

The latest supermarket share figures show year-on-year growth in sales of 1.8% across the Irish grocery market.

The market has now grown consecutively for eighteen months, the longest period of sustained growth since October 2013.

Georgieann Harrington, Insight Director at Kantar Worldpanel, said that after an unprecedented period of decline, Tesco has posted growth of 0.3%.

“This is the first time sales have increased for the retailer since early 2013. Making the most of the back to school season, the grocer has seen its spend from families with children – a heartland for the retailer – increase by 4%.

“A modest increase in shopper numbers overall has certainly played a part in Tesco’s recovery, and its customers are also buying more products per shop in the latest period, helping to boost the retailer’s performance,” Harrington said.

Lidl posted the strongest growth (9.5%) and was closely followed by Dunnes Stores, which grew sales by 5.2%.

“Getting shoppers through the doors continues to be the biggest driver of growth for Lidl, with 40,000 new customers visiting the retailer this year.

“Lidl has utilised clever marketing campaigns like ‘Stikeez’ to encourage customers to spend more per visit, with the average spend increasing by 5% to €22.84,” she said.

“Dunnes’ strong performance continues – shoppers now spend almost €50 more than they did last year, thanks largely to the ‘Shop and Save’ campaign. The retailer continues to gain share in shopping trips worth over €100 and has benefitted from customers buying more items, with volume sales increasing by 5%.

“However, Dunnes has actually seen a drop in shopper numbers, with around 70,000 leaving its stores in the latest period,” she said.

Aldi’s growth of 3.6% is ahead of the market, with the retailer improving its share by 0.2 percentage points to 8.7%, according to Kantar.

Like Dunnes, Aldi has seen the number of customers entering its stores fall this period, but nevertheless continues to grow its sales. Kantar said that the retailer has also seen the average shopper spend increase by 6% to €170.

Supervalu’s growth continues at a slower pace, but the retailer maintains second position, capturing 24.3% of market share, it said.

Kantar said that the number of visits to its stores increased by 5% this period, with shoppers spending €16 more on average than they did last year.