Grocer Waitrose reported a buoyant week of trading over the new year with like for like food sales up 4.7 per cent for the week ending 3 January.

For the same week, total sales, excluding petrol, were up 7.5 per cent. Sales for the 12 trading days of Christmas and new year were up 5.4 per cent, excluding petrol, with like for like food sales up 3.1 per cent. This includes the seven days to 25 December and the five days to 31 January.

Waitrose managing director Mark Price said: “In these challenging economic times we have put a strong emphasis on improving our offer to customers, including more promotions than ever before, deeper discounts and a price commitment programme.

“Our efforts have paid dividends, with our Christmas and New Year trading figures demonstrating there is a place for well positioned, premium food. Our customers are remaining loyal to us albeit shopping differently and getting better value. We predict a tough first quarter – during which we will ramp up our promotional programme – and stronger sales for Waitrose in the second quarter.”

Waitrose also said the annual ‘How Britain Shops’ survey from Verdict Research due to be published later this month shows Waitrose grew customer numbers during 2008, increasing customer share of total visitors by seven per cent.