Tesco has reported improving sales in the UK in its third quarter, while its international markets delivered a “strong performance”.

For the 13 weeks ending November 27, UK like-for-likes were up 1.5% including VAT and excluding petrol. The grocer said this was despite inflation staying low for much of the quarter, and it strengthened as it exited the quarter.

Total UK sales were up 5%.

Tesco said it is “continuing to see evidence of a steady consumer recovery” in the UK. It points to sales of its Finest range which it said is now in double-digit growth on a two-year basis. Non-food sales growth also increased on the second quarter, with Tesco Direct sales up 30%.

In its Big Clubcard Voucher Exchange, 1.5 million customers have doubled the value of their vouchers on selected categories.

It said it has its “strongest Christmas range ever” this year with products including the Apple iPad and Xbox Kinect.

In its international business, total sales increased by 15.7%.

In Asia, sales are up 23.4%. Like-for-likes are up 4.3%, slightly behind the 5% reported in the second quarter, due to unseasonably warm weather in north Asia. In China, it opened its fourth Lifespace mall, in Anshan, which opened well with 96% occupancy.

In Europe, sales are up 7.6%. Like-for-likes are up 3.6%, showing improvements in particular in Hungary and Turkey. Excluding the impact of petrol, the grocer said all of its European businesses achieved like-for-like sales for the first time in three years.

In the US, its Fresh & Easy business reported sales up 38.5%, which it said is due to a particularly successful Thanksgiving. Like-for-likes are up 9.8%, driven by increased customer numbers.

Group sales are up 8.8%.

Chief executive Sir Terry Leahy said: “We’ve made good progress in the third quarter with growth from across the group.  Our continued investment in the shopping trip and our new space opening programme across our markets are giving us good sales momentum and market share gains.  

“As the global economic recovery gathers pace, our broad-based strategy, combined with our ongoing focus on productivity savings, is enabling us to maintain growth in a sustainable, profitable way - delivering value for customers and for shareholders.”