Sainsbury’s is celebrating what it called its best ever Christmas after posting impressive third-quarter sales figures.

Like-for-like sales excluding fuel were up 3.6% in the period to 8 January – comfortably outstripping the 1% improvement announced by Morrisons earlier this week and the 1.8% rise in food sales unveiled yesterday by Marks & Spencer.

Sainsbury’s said it had completed a record 24.5 million transactions in Christmas week. That contributed to a rise in total sales for the quarter of 6% excluding fuel.

“Our strategy of providing universal customer appeal through great food at fair prices has helped Sainsbury’s to deliver its best-ever Christmas,” said chief executive Justin King.

“We delivered a record Christmas performance and have grown market share over the quarter, up 0.3 percentage points to 16.6%.”

Those figures, published yesterday by Kantar Worldpanel, showed Sainsbury’s had narrowed the gap to Asda as the UK’s second largest supermarket by market share. Asda held 16.8% of the market in the three months to 26 December.

Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s has announced plans to create 20,000 news jobs over the next three years in the latest phase of its expansion plans.

Read more
Sainsbury’s picks up festive share in latest Kantar figures (11 January 2011)
M&S unveils rise in festive food sales (11 January 2011)
Morrisons ‘a nose ahead’ as Philips hails strong Christmas (10 January 2011)