A strong Christmas has given Boots’ UK retail business a boost at the tail end of an otherwise flat quarter.

Helped by the lack of snow in the run-up to Christmas, like-for-like sales from Boots’ UK stores were up 4.1% in the five-week period to the end of the year. However, store sales rose just 0.6% in the three months to 31 December.

Overall, Alliance Boots reported a 14.1% increase in sales during the quarter – thanks largely to the acquisition of Anzag in its pharmaceutical division.

“Looking to 2012, we expect the economic environment to remain tough, with continuing pressure on both consumer and governmental expenditure,” said Alliance Boots chairman Stefano Pessina.

“I am as confident as ever that Alliance Boots will deliver another year of double-digit trading growth for our financial year ending 31 March.”