In the red-hot local supermarket wars, Giant Food keeps losing customers, Safeway keeps gaining them and Food Lion is flat, according to an annual survey by Food World, a local trade publication.

The report, the grocery industry's equivalent of election results, again showed traditional supermarkets losing ground to big-box chains such as Wal-Mart Stores and Target.

The region's supermarket stalwarts still capture more than half of every dollar spent on groceries. But for the third year in a row, the traditional stores' grip on local consumers has slipped.

Giant's sales topped $3.4 billion, but its market share fell by nearly 1.5 percentage points during the year of its bumpy merger with corporate sibling Stop & Shop.

In a region where shoppers spent $12.2 billion last year on groceries, each percentage point represents $122 million in sales. Giant spokesman Barry F. Scher blamed the decline on stiff competition and said the chain is formulating a plan to win back consumers.

Safeway, on the other hand, snatched market share from its competitors for the fourth year in a row, despite closing several stores. With sales of $2.3 billion, its market share rose about 0.27 percentage points -- again, a small number that translates into a lot of dollars. Safeway has aggressively renovated local stores. "We think we've hit on the right formula," said spokesman Greg TenEyck.

Other big winners over the past year: Wegmans Food Markets, with two local stores that each rung up nearly $100 million in sales and market share that doubled to 1.51 percent; and Target, which had market share rise 0.59 percent points to about 3.08 percent.

The market share of Food Lion, one of the fastest-growing chains in the Washington region in recent years, dropped slightly. Spokesman Jeffrey Lowrance said market share fluctuates. "We look at store profitability, and we are doing well there," he said.

-- Michael Barbaro