In the UK Tesco revealed like-for-like sales, excluding petrol, increased by 2.5% in for the seven weeks to 10 January 2009.

Its international sales fared better but in the UK it fell behind sales growth reported by Sainsbury’s at 4.5% while yesterday Aldi, the discount retailer, revealed a 25% rise in its total UK sales during 2008.

Tesco said its UK results were 'steady' but said overall it had delivered a 'strong performance and record sales over the Christmas and New Year period' with group sales increased by 11.6%.

It said its on-line UK sales were very strong in the run-up to Christmas and and Tesco Direct combined saw total sales up by over 18% to £273m in the seven weeks.