The proof is in the pudding at Sainsbury’s

Kasmira Jefford
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J SAINSBURY has reported a record Christmas despite the gloomy economic backdrop, as cash-strapped customers treated themselves during the festive season.

Britain’s third largest supermarket said like-for-like sales excluding fuel and VAT and rose 1.2 per cent in the third quarter to 7 January, above analysts’ consensus of 0.9 per cent.

The grocer reported 26m customer transactions in the Christmas week, 1.5m more than the previous year, as it broke records for its biggest ever week, day and hour for sales.

Chief executive Justin King said Sainbury’s saw a continuation “of what has been a long term story” where customers are managing their budgets in order to enjoy themselves on special occasions.

Sales of its premium Taste the Difference range jumped by over ten per cent in the quarter, selling £2m worth of Norfolk Black Free Range turkeys and almost 50,000 cherry filled Christmas puddings.

Sainsbury’s now has 1,000 stores across the UK and opened a further 21 convenience stores in the quarter.

King joined fellow retailers in warning that the first months of 2012 would be tough with shoppers “tightening their belts” ahead of some large events later in the year like the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics.