January 15, 2013 / 8:36 AM / 5 years ago

Co-op says Christmas food sales grow 2.2 pct

LONDON, Jan 15 (Reuters) - British food retailer The Co-operative Group said underlying sales grew 2.2 percent at its food stores over the three week Christmas period, buoyed by sales of Champagne, seasonal produce and desserts.

The group, which is owned by over six million consumers and says it is the fifth biggest food retailer in Britain, posted like-for-like sales -- including VAT but excluding fuel -- up 2.2 percent in the three weeks to January 5 compared with the same period last year.

Many retailers are finding the going tough as consumers, whose spending generates about two thirds of Britain's gross domestic product, fret over job security and a squeeze on incomes.

With the retail market showing minimal growth, retailers are battling to steal market share off each other. The Co-op competes against the "big four" food retailers, includes market leader Tesco, No. 2 player Wal-Mart's Asda, J. Sainsbury in third place and No. 4 operator Wm Morrison.

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