Marks & Spencer has defied the snow to record a 1.8% increase in like-for-like food sales over Christmas.

The retailer, widely regarded as a bellwether for the high street, said total food sales rose 3.5% in the 13 weeks to 1 January.

Chief executive Marc Bolland said consumers were returning to quality, with Champagne sales up 10%, turkey sales up 10%, salmon sales up 17% and party food sales up 18%.

But he admitted that the adverse weather conditions had impacted food sales by around 1%.

“We continue to expect trading conditions ahead to be more challenging as consumers’ disposable incomes come under pressure from increased VAT rates and the impact of public spending cuts,” Bolland added.

Group sales rose 4% during the period, with like-for-like sales across all areas of the business up 2.8%.

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