Sainsbury’s has reported like-for-likes were up 0.2% in its third quarter but still recorded its best ever Christmas.

For the 14 weeks to January 4, Sainsbury’s reported like-for-likes excluding petrol up 0.2%. Total sales for the quarter were up 2.7% excluding petrol. The grocer recorded 28 million customer transactions in the seven-day run-up to Christmas.

Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King said: “This quarter has been characterised by a very tough sales environment throughout October and November, with customers saving up in order to treat their families over the Christmas period. However, we saw strong sales in the key period over Christmas, helping record numbers of customers to ‘Live Well for Less’. Like-for-like sales excluding fuel of 0.2%, coupled with a strong contribution from new space, led to our best Christmas ever.”

Sainsbury’s reported Monday December 23 was its busiest day and saw its biggest trading hour, with customers spending nearly £17m. Also on the 23rd, its Stanway store in Essex was the first to take £1m sales in one day. Customers redeemed more than £120m worth of Nectar points over Christmas.

Sainsbury’s top-end Taste the Difference range grew at 10% in the quarter. It sold more than 100,000 Taste the Difference fresh turkeys and turkey crowns.

The convenience business is growing at nearly 18%, while online grocery has grown at more than 10% in the quarter.

Sainsbury’s new groceries online website was launched in the quarter.

Sainsbury’s general merchandise and clothing achieved record levels of market share, it said. It saw strong growth of more than 25% in tableware and nearly 30% in gifting. It also sold more than a quarter of a million Christmas jumpers and more than 300,000 onesies.

In the quarter, Sainsbury’s added more than 555,000 sq ft of new space.

King said: “As with last year, we expect customers to spend cautiously in the few months following Christmas, in an attempt to rebalance the household finances. The general economic backdrop remains uncertain for many families, so helping them to Live Well for Less remains the key to continuing our market outperformance.”

Sainsbury's like-for-likes edge up 0.2% over "best ever" Christmas