It wasn't just the multiples that enjoyed the Christmas spirit - the festive period was just as much a winner for independents.

Nisa-Today's put to rest the ghost of Christmas 2005 - when it suffered serious distribution problems at its warehouse in Scunthorpe - to report a 15.7% sales increase through its Central Distribution Services division in the eight weeks up to Christmas.

The buying group said the success was largely down to its New Era Terms - an optional trading scheme offering a rebate for members in return for their support of group initiatives.

It said the initiative had been widely adopted by members and had driven extra sales through their stores. Nisa members that fall into the supermarket category and compete against the multiples achieved 12% sales growth.

The best performing store in the group, Budgens Chorleywood, owned by Vic and Jag Grewal, recorded a 42% sales increase. Upmarket food retailer Booths, owned by Nisa-Today's chairman Edwin Booth, one of the UK's leading independent retailers with sales of £215m, reported like-for-like sales, excluding lottery and fuel, up 6.7% for the period from 10 December to 6 January.

And Nisa member Ian Hunt said he was delighted to have matched the 5.9% sales uplift recorded by Tesco for the Christmas trading period (see story below). "We are also running 3% up on last January," he added.

Bestway director Younus Sheikh said, despite a drop in alcohol sales, overall business for December grew slightly more than 8%.

"Booze business declined by about 9% mainly due to the grey market and the pricing policy of the multiples," confirmed Sheikh.The biggest selling lines for Bestway were Ribena, Warburtons bread and Lucozade.

Budgens celebrated a bumper festive period, with sales across its independent estate up 20% in Christmas week.