Tesco and Sainsbury’s have announced ‘best ever’ Christmas trading periods, as Asda and M&S lose ground.

The UK’s biggest supermarket Tesco revealed like-for-like sales over the festive period increased by 1.9%, including a 3.4% rise in food sales.

The company claims the success was driven by a fresh food outperformance of 4%.

But it said its success was hampered by the demise of Palmer & Harvey in November, blaming the collapse for a 0.6% impact to its Christmas like-for-like sales due to low stocks of tobacco.

This morning, Booker also announced that its tobacco sales dipped by 2.6% but non tobacco sales increased by 5.8% in the 16 weeks to December 29 2017.

Shareholders will vote on the on its merger with Tesco at the end of February.

Charles Wilson, Booker chief executive, said: “The proposed merger with Tesco is progressing as planned. We are very grateful for the support we have received from customers, suppliers, shareholders and colleagues during this process.”

Sainsbury’s total sales, excluding fuel, rose by 1.2% in the 15 weeks to January 6 compared to the same period a year ago, but Morrison’s had the biggest percentage increase over Christmas.

The fourth biggest supermarket sold 2.8% more in the 10 weeks to January 7 than it did for the same period a year earlier, not including new store openings.

Trading was particularly buoyant in the last six weeks, with sales for up by 3.7% compared to the previous year.

However, it was not all smooth sailing for the supermarkets as Marks & Spencer revealed food sales dipped by 0.4%, contributing to a like-for-like sales decrease of 1.4% in the last 13 weeks of 2017.

Asda also posted figures that are “behind expectations” this week, revealing its pre-tax profit for 2016 fell 19% to £791.7m.

The results are the company’s worst annual figures since its takeover by American grocer Walmart.