SuperValu has drawn level with Dunnes Stores with a market share of 22.5%, according to the latest Irish supermarket share figures from Kantar Worldpanel.

The data, which cover the 12 weeks to 4 December, shows Tesco is next with a 21.8% market share.

The figures covering the previous 12 weeks showed Dunnes had overtaken SuperValu for the first time.

Commenting on the figures, Director at Kantar Worldpanel David Berry said: “Having reached the number one spot for the first time last month, Dunnes now shares that position with SuperValu – a real testament to just how competitive this marketplace is.

“Just 0.7 percentage points now separate the three largest retailers as we enter the all-important festive period,” he added.

SuperValu posted a 1% increase in sales over the past 12 weeks, with shoppers spending an extra €1 on average every time they visit one of the retailer’s stores.

Meanwhile, Dunnes’ longstanding ‘Shop and Save’ campaign continues to deliver results, with nearly 64% of households visiting the retailer in the 12 weeks to 4 December.

Dunnes shoppers return just over once a week and spend €39.50 per visit – an increase of almost €3 compared with last year.

According to Kantar, Dunnes is the only retailer that has delivered stronger growth for brands – up 5.7% – than own label goods, which increased by a more modest 3.3% over the period.

With regard to Tesco, Mr Berry said: “In the past quarter we’ve seen evidence of Tesco’s turnaround, with sales showing positive growth for the first time since March this year.

“An additional 10,000 households have chosen to shop with Tesco in 2016 and are returning to the retailer more frequently – a clear positive sign for the grocer.”

Among the discount retailers, Lidl increased its sales by 4.3% – ahead of the overall market which is growing by 3.7% – leading to a slight increase in market share for the retailer.

Aldi also continues to post positive results, demonstrating the strongest growth of all the retailers, with sales up more than 6% year on year.