It was a happy Christmas for Morrisons, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's as trading figures got the thumbs up from the City.

Customer numbers and spend were up at Morrisons, said chief executive Marc Bolland as he announced like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, for the six weeks to 7 January 2007 up 6.3%.

He put the success down to a "very sharp offering" and good sales of fresh produce and premium lines. "The Best, sparkling wines and Champagne traded 40% better than last year," he said. Oriel Securities analyst Jonathan Pritchard said it was a "nice surprise" that Morrisons' like-for-like sales were ahead of expectation, while Citigroup's David McCarthy said it "looks like the momentum remains with Morrisons".

Pritchard was optimistic about Sainsbury's future after its like-for-like sales rose 5% for the 12 weeks to 30 December. "The fresh area of our basket is driving what we are doing," said Sainsbury's CFO Darren Shapland. Sainsbury's distribution reached full capacity this Christmas.

To prepare for the year ahead, it was to begin work on a new distribution centre in Northampton. "We will be expanding supermarket space where we can. There are places around the country where we don't have a presence," he said.

Like-for-like food sales at Marks & Spencer were up 3.6%. Success at Christmas prompted M&S chief executive Stuart Rose to use the 'R' word for the first time since May 2004.

"We have delivered growth-on-growth in all areas of our business, completing the first part of our recovery plan," he said.