German discount supermarket Lidl has continued to grow its market share in Northern Ireland - and has a bigger slice of spending here than it does in Britain, according to a report.
Statistics from information service Kantar said the retailer had increased its market share to 5.9% in the year to May 19, higher than its 5.8% share in Britain.
In contrast, there had been a slight fall in the market share here of the top three grocers, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda.
The value of sales in Lidl had accelerated by 7% over the period, far outpacing sales growth by its competitors.
However, Lidl's share of the market in Northern Ireland, where it has 38 stores, is still below the 11.5% slice it claims in the Republic.
Kantar said that overall spending in Northern Ireland grocers, from the multiples like Tesco to the symbol convenience retailers, was up 1.4% over the period.
And Tesco, which has around 50 stores of varying sizes around Northern Ireland, held fast to its position as number one. Its sales were up 1.1% and its market share was 35.1%.
Sainsbury's, which has 14 stores in the province, remained at number two with 17.2% and had grown its sales by 0.9%.
It maintained a comfortable lead over Asda, with its 18 stores. The Walmart-owned business had a market share of 16.9% and had grown its sales by 0.8%.
Following the veto of a proposed merger with Sainsbury's, Walmart has said it may list Asda on the stock market.
Douglas Faughnan, Kantar consumer insight director, said: "Northern Ireland's three largest retailers, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda, all saw their market share eroded by 0.1 percentage points, with Lidl the primary benefactor as it continues to perform strongly both north and south of the border. The retailer now accounts for 5.9% of the market in the north, marginally higher than the 5.8% share it holds in Britain, but still some way off the 11.5% it claims in the Republic of Ireland."
And he said the decision by watchdog the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to block the proposed merger between Asda and Sainsbury's meant that Tesco's position at number one would be safe.
He said the deal "would have seen more than £2 in every £3 spent on groceries in NI shared between two retailers".
"According to the CMA, this would mean reduced competition and increased prices for the consumer - in a region where prices are already on the rise, up 1.5% in the past year," he said.
"With the merger now dead, the focus for all three major retailers in the north will return to preventing further losses to Lidl, which continues to grow at an impressive 7%."
Dunnes is the dominant grocer in the Republic, with market share of 22.3% in the 12 weeks to May 19. But with Lidl and fellow discounter Aldi having shares in the Republic of 11.5% and 12.1%, discounters now had a combined market share that was bigger than the number one operator. Aldi does not operate here.