Tesco has again been forced to rely on overseas growth after its Christmas trading in the UK showed only a marginal improvement.

Like-for-like UK sales were up just 0.6% in the in the six weeks to 8 January.

The UK’s largest supermarket claimed food had put in a strong performance, in particular its Finest range, but blamed disruption caused by the cold weather and strong comparatives for “subdued” trading figures in non-food.

Overseas growth was more robust, with total sales up 14%. That contributed to a rise in group-wide sales of 7.6% over the Christmas trading period.

The figures come after Sainsbury’s yesterday emerged as a clear winner from the festive period. The retailer unveiled a 3.6% rise in like-for-like sales over the three months before Christmas.

Outgoing Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy insisted the retail giant had “continued to make good progress” despite its modest UK figures.

“Our performance remains solid but was hindered in the run-up to the important Christmas trading period in the UK by the disruptive effects of the severe winter weather conditions,” he said.

“Our staff and suppliers did a fantastic job in delivering a great shopping trip for customers in difficult circumstances.”

Read more
The Co-op blames big freeze for big slump in food sales (13 January 2011)
Record Christmas spurs Sainsbury’s to super third quarter (12 January 2011)
Sainsbury’s picks up festive share in latest Kantar figures (11 January 2011)