The Co-operative Group’s like-for-like sales grew 3.1% in the four weeks ending December 31.

In the week leading up to Christmas like-for-likes jumped 16.1%, benefiting from the timing of Christmas Day according to the retailer.

However, in the 13 weeks to 31 December, like-for-like sales edged down 0.2%.

The retailer said top selling lines in food were white wines, with sales up 21% boosted by fine and exclusive lines and freshly baked mince pies, up 12% year-on-year.

Food sales growth in December came on the back of an improving like-for-like trend throughout the second half according to the group.

The Co-operative said its online electrical business had its best Christmas ever with sales during the four week period jumping 18.4%. Electricals sales in its food stores soared 78%, with flat screen TV sales up 20% and home entertainment products, such as laptop and iPods, up 30%.

The Co-operative Group chief executive Peter Marks said: “These results represent an encouragingly good performance in the very competitive markets in which we operate and in continuing difficult economic times.

“Against the backdrop of financial pressures on household budgets our focus on quality and value and the fact that our food stores are located within communities struck a chord with customers.”

The group has also acquired Scottish convenience retailer David Sands, which has 28 stores, for an undisclosed sum. The stores are located in Fife, Kinross and Perthshire.The sale is expected to be completed in the next couple of months, subject to a review by the OFT.

The acquisition is the latest step in The Co-operative Group’s plans to expand its 2,800-strong UK food store network by more than 300 stores over the next three years.

Marks said: “The Sands stores will be a valuable addition to our food portfolio as we forge ahead with our programme to grow the business by seeking new opportunities at the heart of local communities right across the UK. This deal will significantly strengthen our position in Scotland.”