Sainsbury’s has recorded a 3.6% increase in third-quarter sales, as the UK grocery retailer today (12 January) posted a record Christmas performance.

Despite the snowy weather, Sainsbury’s said that transactions in the week of Christmas reached an “all time high” of over 24.5 million.

For the quarter ended 8 January, Sainsbury’s like-for-like sales were up 3.6%, excluding fuel. Its total sales, excluding fuel, rose 6%. and it said that it grew market share by 0.3% over the quarter to 16.6%.

Kantar Worldpanel market-share data for the 12 weeks to 26 December showed Sainsbury’s remained the UK’s third-largest food retailer, with the company accounting for 16.6% of the country’s grocery market. Asda, the UK arm of Wal-Mart Stores, held 16.8% of the market, Kantar said.

Sainsbury’s opened some 700,000 square foot of new space over the quarter, with 11 new supermarkets, 12 new convenience stores, 14 extensions and 16 store refurbishments.

Despite the strong results, shares in the retailer fell in early trading, down just under 1% at 08:57 GMT to 386.6p a share.

Click here for the retailer’s full earnings statement. Click here for Sainsbury’s comments on its Christmas trading – and here for chief executive Justin King’s warning to suppliers on commodity costs.