British retail major Tesco reported a 3.6% increase in like-for-like sales for the five-week holiday season ended 5 January 2013 as compared to the corresponding period in 2012.

The improvement in sales was attributed to a better performance for the food business in UK and healthy returns from the Asian markets.

Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke highlighted stated that the results were consistent with expectations while those from UK showed improvement.

"This performance was driven by a further improvement in our food business in-store and a strong contribution from online, which included our biggest ever week for internet sales, a successful first Christmas for Grocery Click & Collect and a better performance for Tesco Direct, our online general merchandise business.

"The Group performed broadly in-line with our expectations through the Christmas period, with an improved performance in the UK and maintained trends elsewhere as we continue to experience tough trading conditions – particularly in Central Europe," said Clarke.

International figures for the retailer were bolstered by an impressive 7.8% growth registered in Asia and a 4.1% growth by US division, Fresh & Easy.

In the UK, total sales including VAT and petrol grew 4.2% with like-for-like sales increasing by 1.8%, indicating a strong performance when compared to the preceding three years.

The general merchandise category – both in-store and online – has shown an improvement from the previous quarter, while online food sales grew 18%.