• UK like-for-likes up 1.3%
  • Customer transactions up 3.4%; volumes up 3.5%
  • Group like-for-like sales increased 2.1% in six-week period
  • Group like-for-like sales edged up 0.4% for the 19 weeks to January 9 – Tesco’s first reported increase for more than four years

Tesco has delivered a better-than-expected Christmas as UK-like-for-likes increased 1.3% in the six weeks to January 9.

Tesco said the Christmas performance was a “significant improvement on recent results”. Volumes increased by 3.5% and transactions increased by 3.4% “as more customers chose to do more of their Christmas shopping at Tesco”.

Like-for-like sales advanced 2.1% across the group and increased 4.1% in the international business.

Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said: “Our Christmas performance was strong, benefiting from lower prices on an outstanding range of products. Our customer service improved materially and our colleagues went the extra mile. Put simply, we put customers at the heart of everything we did and they responded by buying more of what they needed at Tesco.

“International sales have also continued to strengthen, driven once again by improvements across the offer.

“There is plenty more to do, but we are making good progress and are trading in line with profit expectations for the full year.”

In the 19 weeks to January 9 group like-for-likes were up 0.4% – Tesco’s first reported increase for more than four years. In the UK, third-quarter like-for-likes fell 1.5% as Tesco pulled back from couponing.

Tesco said it benefited over Christmas from better customer service – the grocer introduced 4,000 additional ‘Here to Help’ colleagues in the peak week.

The grocer said it was about 5% cheaper than last year on “lines that mattered most”. Following a range reset, “availability reached new record highs”.

Tesco reported “positive” like-for-like sales growth in its large Extra format. Clothing sales “grew significantly ahead of the market, with strong ladies fashion and knitwear ranges supported by an attractive Christmas gifting offer”.

Its grocery home shopping service notched up a record number of orders delivered in one day on December 22.