UK retailer The Co-operative Group has recorded a drop in fourth-quarter sales, hurt by a “tough trading environment” and “severe weather conditions”.

For the 13 weeks to 1 January, like-for-like sales across the group fell by 0.6%, the retailer said today (13 January). In food, like-for-like sales dropped 3.2% as a result of the impact of the weather on both footfall and spending patterns across the group’s national network.

During the period, around 200 stores closed on average for seven days to allow for full refits. Despite this, the core convenience estate, which includes both Co-operative and Somerfield stores, saw like-for-like sales increase by 2%.

Peter Marks, group chief executive, said: “We have delivered a solid trading performance across our retail businesses in a difficult environment. The exceptionally cold weather created logistical issues for our food stores – particularly given the sheer scale and geographic spread of our estate.

“The planned acceleration of the Somerfield conversion programme was an added issue – but this continues at pace and we remain on track to complete the process by Spring 2011,” he added.

The Co-operative Group’s share price climbed 2.05% to GBP137.00 at 10.58am BST today.