Sainsbury’s saw total sales in its third quarter up 2.5%. However, like-for-like sales growth was flat (0.2%) over the the 14 weeks to 4 January 2014.

The retailer, which issued its latest financial update this morning (8 January), said the seven days prior to Christmas Day provided its busiest-ever trading week, with strong growth seen in its Taste the Difference range.

Justin King, chief executive, Sainsbury’s, said: “This quarter has been characterised by a very tough sales environment throughout October and November, with customers saving up in order to treat their families over the Christmas period.

“However, we saw strong sales in the key period over Christmas, helping record numbers of customers to Live Well for Less. Like-for-like sales excluding fuel of 0.2%, coupled with a strong contribution from new space, led to our best Christmas ever.”

Its busiest trading day fell on Monday 23 December, with its Stanway store in Essex becoming the first-ever store to take £1m in sales in one day.