MARKS & SPENCER sales rose by 5.1 percent in the 13 weeks to 27.
The hike was driven by sales of formalwear and knitwear and the figures outstripped analysts' forecasts of a 1.7 per cent rise
M&S said full-year pre-tax profit would be around £630m, in its trading statement.
The first day of the Christmas sale – which was not included in the same quarter last year – help to boost the figures.
Meanwhile staff will receive an £80m bonus pool which will see a handout of between £200 and £500 to about 50,000 workers.
M&S chairman and chief executive Sir Stuart Rose said: "We have weathered the immediate impact of the recession but remain cautious about the outlook for 2010-11 given the current challenging environment. Self help has helped.
"We hope that after the election there will be greater clarity on economic policy and how this will impact our customers individually."
The trading statement is the last from Rose who will be replaced as chief executive by former Morrisons boss Marc Bolland in May.