Supermarket Chain Sainsbury’s has had a better than expected Christmas week with profits bolstered by online sales.

Sainsbury’s say they had a 0.1pc rise in like for like sales, over the last 15 weeks.  Expectations in the city were that the supermarket would see a slight fall in sales.  As it has performed better than expected, its shares have increased to 272p.

All supermarkets did well over Christmas this year.

Sainsbury’s chief executive, Mike Coupe, said, “Christmas came late. The group took a record £1bn worth of sales in the final week leading up to it.”

Total sales for Sainsbury’s increased by 0.8pc.  Recently it purchased Argos, which helped to increase sales further, thanks to the flurry of electrical goods and toys sold.  Argos recorded a 4.1pc lift in sales and like for like growth.

Clothing however, was the star performer for Supermarkets.  The Tu range saw a 10pc lift, which is a further indication that the supermarket is managing to steal clothing sales from high street rivals.

Online sales for Sainsbury increased too, growing 9pc thanks to the 200 new click and collect sites.

Laith Khalaf,  analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown said, “Against a backdrop of food deflation, flat sales are a pyrrhic victory for the supermarket, and represent an improvement on performance so far this financial year.

“Sainsbury’s did see positive sales momentum in its online offering and in convenience stores, which suggests these channels picked up the slack from the big supermarket outlets. This is part and parcel of an ongoing shift in customer preferences, away from big out of town supermarkets in favour of shopping from the comfort of their own home, or at a local convenience store.”

Although Mr Coupe has been criticised for the £1.4bn purchase of Argos, the figures over the Christmas period seem to imply it was the right move.  He said, “Grocery retailing has been challenging but we see a solution to that when we add Argos sites to our stores sales go up. So we have confidence in our ability and feel destiny is in our own hands.

“The business is changing, but it is changing in the right way and a sustainable way.”