Sainsbury’s has reported a record Christmas performance, delivering like-for-like sales for its third quarter up 3.7% excluding petrol.

The performance was ahead of City expectations, which was a gain of 3.5%. For the 13 weeks to January 2, Sainsbury’s reported total sales up 6.3% excluding petrol, and excluding petrol and VAT, like-for-like sales were up 4.2%.

Chief executive Justin King said: “Our strategy of delivering great food at fair prices has resulted in a record Christmas performance, completing a strong third quarter on top of good growth last year. While food price inflation eased in the quarter as expected, a winning combination of more customers, enjoying even better products and prices through more stores delivered total sales growth of 6.2 per cent.”

Sainsbury’s said it delivered an average one million more customers each week over the quarter, hitting an all-time high of 24 million in the seven days up to and including Christmas Eve.

It said Nectar data showed 14% more customers bought their turkey and trimmings from the grocer than last year.

Non-food grew at over four times the rate of food in the quarter. It said investment in infrastructure has enabled a substantive step up in the execution of marketing-led events, such as, Halloween, toys and entertainment alongside good growth in clothing and Christmas ranges.

Sainsbury’s launched a Nectar campaign before Christmas. It said of the 16 million registered Nectar card holders, regular Sainsbury’s users were up 750,000 versus this time last year. It said the ‘coupon at till’ scheme was “a clear winner” and its double Nectar point campaign for Sainsbury’s Finance is also “working well”.

In the quarter, the grocer opened eight new supermarkets and completed five extensions.

Online grocery sales were up over 15% in the quarter and it delivered a record half a million orders online over the four key trading weeks before Christmas.