Tesco has reported record sales in the lead up to Christmas, with strong trading in fresh food helping it outperform the total market.
The supermarket posted like-for-like sales growth of 2.3 per cent across the third quarter and 1.9 per cent in the six-week period to 6 January at its UK stores.
In the four weeks before Christmas Day Tesco enjoyed “record sales and volumes” and in the first week of December Tesco reported its biggest ever week of sales, outstripping the market by nearly four per cent in fresh food.
“Our trading momentum accelerated across the third quarter and into December, with the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day delivering record sales and volumes in the UK,” chief executiuve Dave Lewis said.
Sales of Tesco's exclusive fresh food brands, core Tesco range and Tesco Finest products all grew by more than four per cent in the six-week Christmas period, and as in previous years, the supermarket’s seasonal offer included a ‘Festive 5’ vegetable deal.
All store formats were reported to have performed well over Christmas, with a similar level of growth in both large and small stores.
In addition, Tesco’s online grocery business contributed sales growth of five per cent, with over four million customer orders in the six-week Christmas period.
Tesco had been tipped to outperform the rest of the big four in the third quarter, but that title appears to have been taken by Morrisons, which posted like-for-like sales rises of 3.7 per cent earlier in the week.
Martin Lane, managing editor of money.co.uk, commented: “Tesco is still facing fierce competition from the likes of Aldi and Lidl, but these results show they are still holding their ground.
"They can’t afford to rest on their laurels though. With both Sainsbury’s and Morrisons beating their Christmas trading forecasts, the supermarket giant needs to keep prices competitive despite inflation to keep customers loyal and coming back for more.”
Despite its strong grocery sales, Tesco said its overall performance was dented by poor merchandise revenues and the loss of Palmer & Harvey as a major supplier.
The wholesaler, which was the UK’s largest tobacco supplier, went into administration in November, resulting in lost sales across Tesco stores.