Sales up for eighth consecutive quarter
Sainsbury's was the latest supermarket to unveil strong Christmas trading this morning, reporting an eighth consecutive quarter of sales growth.

Like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, were up 5 per cent in the 12 weeks to December 30. Total sales for the quarter, also excluding fuel, were up 6.8 per cent.

The final run-up to Christmas was particularly strong, with 20 million customers visiting stores during Christmas week and online sales in the last week before Christmas up 60 per cent.

Grocery prices in stores rose 1.7 per cent over the quarter, which chief executive Justin King blamed on rising energy and commodity prices, as well as cost increases for fresh produce. However, he added that the company is spending£70 million on reducing the prices of 1,000 products and 200 half-price offers. 'We will ensure we remain competitive,' he said.

The company also announced that BUPA chief executive Val Gooding is joining its board as a non-executive director, replacing Jamie Dundas, who is stepping down.