The Co-operative Food like-for-likes edge up 2.2% over Christmas, which were driven by its convenience stores, as sales growth continued through the second half of 2012.

In the three weeks ending January 5 total sales increased 2.4%, including VAT and excluding fuel.

Like-for-likes in its convenience stores rose 5.5%, which it said was driven by targeted promotions and its new advertising campaign.

The Christmas sales boost comes on the back of improved underlying performance at The Co-op’s food business in the second half of 2012.

In its final quarter food like-for-likes edged up 0.3% while total food sales were up 0.6%.

The Co-operative Group chief executive Peter Marks said: “These results represent a really encouraging and resilient performance in some of the most testing trading conditions for 40 years.

“The figures also helped to sustain the positive sales momentum we have seen in the second half and while conditions remain very challenging, we now enter 2013 in a position where we expect to make continued progress.”

The retailer said that Christmas Eve was its busiest day with £35m taken across the day as customers did a last-minute shop for festive necessities.

Its top sellers across Christmas and new year were champagne, which rocketed 29%, and chilled desserts, which surged 32% with profiteroles, tiramisu and lemoncello among the favourites.

The Co-operative’s pharmacy over-the-counter like-for-likes increased 7.7% with gift sales soaring 55%.

Meanwhile, Co-operative Electrical, its online business, experienced a 15.2% uplift over the festive period. Tablets were its best seller, with sales up 68%.