Holland & Barrett reported like-for-like sales up 2.3% in December as shoppers sought out health foods over the festive period.

For the three months to December 31, like-for-like sales were up 1.6%, which the health food retailer said is down to customers valuing personal health and refusing to cut spending on key areas of their lives.

During 2010, Holland & Barrett grew its natural beauty category 16.8% year-on-year, with the sports nutrition category up 14.4%.

Martin Moran, group sales and operations director at NBTY Europe, Holland & Barrett’s parent company, said: “We are very pleased with these figures - especially given the current challenging economic climate - and are committed to providing customers with the highest quality products at excellent value.

“During the next 12 months, we are well placed to continue growth across all brands in the group. As customers continue to be affected by spending cuts, we are confident that personal health will remain of upmost importance.

“The London Olympics in 2012 will provide the catalyst for many people to take control of their health and lifestyle, while natural beauty products are a huge growth area as customers become ever more aware of harsh chemicals such as parabens and SLS in traditional products.”

Holland & Barrett is part of NBTY Europe, which comprises more than 1,000 stores across Europe, including Holland & Barrett, Julian Graves, GNC and De Tuinen brands.