Sainsbury's has reported a 3.7% increase in like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, for the 12 weeks to 29 December.

Total sales for the quarter rose 5.9%, or 4.7% excluding fuel, and the supermarket chain said it had reached its goal of £2.5bn additional sales since March 2005 three months early.

More than 21.5 million customers shopped at Sainsbury's in the seven days before Christmas and more than 300,000 customers were served per hour on 23 December.

Online orders also doubled, with 90,000 orders delivered in the week before Christmas.

“Consumer budgets are clearly under pressure and we expect the market to continue to be very competitive,” added CEO Justin King.

“The improvements we have made to our business during our recovery means we are well equipped to perform in this challenging environment and we remain confident in our ability to deliver our growth plans.”