Supermarket group Sainsbury's has joined Next and John Lewis in reporting a strong end to 2009 with an increase in like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to January 2, 2010. The supermarket group said online, new stores and promotions benefited its balance sheet.

Online grocery sales grew by 15 per cent in the last quarter, with the Sainsbury's website accounting or half a million online orders in the four weeks before Christmas. During this period Sainsbury's also increased the fee of online deliveries to its customers.

Christmas 2009 was the first major test for the new non-foods Sainsbury's online store, which sells home wares, technology, toys and sports goods. Although no figures were given, Sainsbury's said it was happy with its performance.

In the 13 weeks to January 2, 2010 Sainsbury's saw like-for-like sales increase by 3.7 per cent, not including fuel sales. Weekly transactions at its stores and online retail outlets increased by a million during the period. Nectar reward card data reveals that sales of turkeys and Christmas dinner trimmings increased by 14 per cent over the previous year. Sainsbury's stated that this was a move towards a more traditional Christmas, but could also be a sign that consumers were using supermarkets to cut the cost of Christmas and not buying their turkey at the butcher this year.

CIO 100 ranked Sainsbury's will continue its expansion plans and will have increased its store space by 15 per cent by March 2011. In the last quarter it opened eight new stores, six of which were formerly Somerfield and Co-op stores.

Today's results from Sainsbury's contrast with yesterday's worse than expected results from Marks & Spencer, who said like-for-like sales only increased by 0.8 per cent.