SUPERMARKET Waitrose has reported its most successful pre-Christmas trading on record.

It said total branch sales excluding petrol were up 7.7% between November 4 and December 24 with like-for-like sales increasing 4.3%.

Sales volumes were up 5.9% with the company, part of the John Lewis Partnership, saying its brand price match had been a key factor. Customer numbers increased by 4.5% across the period.

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Trading in the days running up to Christmas was "particularly strong" with December 23 the busiest Sunday in the chain's history. Online sales also reported huge growth with sales rising 37%.

Celebrity endorsed products such as Heston Blumenthal's figgy pudding and his chocolate cake among the strongest sellers.

Value range essential Waitrose was also a strong performer while etiquette guide, How Rude, Modern Manners Defined, proved to be a popular gift.

Waitrose managing director Mark Price said: "The key to our growth this Christmas has been a combination of great value and inspiring, innovative products. This has led to increased volumes, driving our sales up as more people shopped with us and existing customers bought additional items.

"More promotions, Brand Price Match and our essential Waitrose range mean that customers feel confident about our prices. But it wouldn't be Christmas without fabulous special occasion food like Heston's new festive products."

Waitrose will open its fifth Scottish store in January when its 25,000 square feet Stirling branch opens.

That adds to the two each in Edinburgh and Glasgow with further openings planned in Milngavie and Helensburgh.

Waitrose also carries hundreds of products from Scottish food companies.