Home shopping retailer Shop Direct Group reported total sales up 6.3% for the six weeks ended January 1.

Shop Direct Group said that it had delivered almost eight million items over the six-week Christmas period and that margin growth was significantly ahead of sales growth because of less clearance activity and “stronger support” from suppliers.

The sales growth of 6.3% came on top of a 9% growth over the same period last year.

Online sales were up by 19% against the same period the previous year. Online accounted for 65% of all sales versus 56% last year.

Collectively, Shop Direct Group’s websites attracted one million visitors each day, which Hitwise said put it in the top four most-visited online retailers. The retailer - which operates sites such as Very.co.uk and Woolworths.co.uk said all brands had performed well over the period.

Shop Direct Group chief executive mark Newton-Jones said: “This Christmas, we have seen yet another strong trading performance across all of our brands. This is particularly pleasing as it follows on from last year, when we had an extremely successful Christmas where we recorded 9% growth for the same six-week period.”

“We found that last year customers concentrated their shopping into two weeks but this year, we have seen four equally large trading weeks; the last two weeks of November and the first two weeks of December. We believe that the ease of shopping online allows customers to manage their shopping time more effectively, planning earlier and shopping later.”

“2009 has been a year of significant change and innovation for Shop Direct. We have added new brands to our portfolio, as well as having increased our product ranges. Although 2010 will continue to be challenging in the retail sector, we are confident that the customer-led changes we have made will propel the business forward to help us achieve our objective of 70% of sales online.”