Tesco has insisted that shoppers traded up for Christmas, despite fears over a prolonged recession, as the UK’s largest retailer prepares to announce its festive sales figures.

The supermarket giant is this week expected to unveil a rise in like-for-like sales of around 2.5% for the key Christmas period, with sales of its Finest range thought to have outperformed those of its Value products by more than 30%.

Sales of Value items subsequently overtook the more upmarket Finest products after the Christmas period ended.

“Customers were determined to keep Christmas special and treat themselves and their families and friends,” a Tesco spokesman told the Daily Telegraph.

Last week Sainsbury’s defied the economic downturn to post sales growth of 4.5% for the past three months, representing the supermarket group’s best-ever Christmas performance.

Morrisons, meanwhile, is tipped to announce a rise in like-for-like sales of 8% for the past three months, establishing the chain as one of the early winners from the looming recession.