McColl’s has reported a 0.7% dip in like-for-likes during the Christmas trading period, boosted by a “strong range” of seasonal products.

The convenience specialist said the figure for the six weeks to January 10 marked a 1.1% improvement on its fourth quarter like-for-likes.

Bosses hailed strong sales in seasonal categories including fruit and vegetables, greetings cards, confectionery and alcohol, which helped drive those figures.

McColl’s added that its food-to-go proposition performed particularly well during the Christmas period, reporting a 25% hike in like-for-like sales.

Like-for-likes in McColl’s premium convenience and food and wine stores were broadly flat, while standard c-stores and newsagents posted a 1.8% drop. The retailer’s total sales were up 3.3% during the six-week period, driven by its store expansion programme.

McColl’s opened 623 of its stores on Christmas Day this year, compared to 578 in 2014. That led to record Christmas Day sales performance for the group as more than 130,000 customers were served throughout the day.

The retailer’s store estate will surpass the 900 mark during the first quarter of 2016 after exchanging contracts on a further nine acquisitions. It aims to grow its portfolio to 1,000 stores during 2016.

McColl’s chief executive James Lancaster said: “I am encouraged by our trading performance over Christmas and New Year. Our strong sales have been driven by the continued focus on premium convenience stores, with the food-to-go offering going from strength to strength.”