Tesco was putting a positive spin on its Christmas performance this week, despite its latest trading figures showing UK sales falling short of expectations.

Like-for-likes were up 3.1%, excluding petrol, for the six-week period to 5 January 2008, below expectations of 3.5%-4%.

But the chain still had a profitable Christmas, claimed corporate affairs director Lucy Neville-Rolfe. "Our shelves were much better compared with everyone else this Christmas. We had excellent produce availability and a good supply of all the extras."

Neville-Rolfe said it was important to note Tesco's Christmas update covered six weeks, in contrast with Sainsbury's 12-week update last week when it reported growth of 3.7%. Just before the six weeks to 5 January, Tesco's growth rate was 4%, so there was not a huge difference, she claimed.

In contrast to its rivals, Morrisons is expected to post market-busting figures next week. Citigroup said like-for-likes excluding fuel would be up 8%.