UK retailer Marks and Spencer has posted a 4.7% rise in clothing sales over its third quarter, which includes the key Christmas trading period.

M&S announced this morning (11 January) that its total UK sales - across food and clothing - were up by 4% in the 13 weeks to 1 January, with general merchandise growing by 4.4%. Like for like UK sales increased 2.8%.

The company said that its clothing market share was up 70bps to 11.8%, according to research from Kantar, with growth in knitwear, accessories, underwear, sleepwear and footwear.

The company managed to trade strongly over Christmas despite the heavy snowfall in December, which disrupted traffic on the UK high street.

"Marks & Spencer traded well through the important Christmas period despite the severe weather as customers continued to return to M&S quality," confirmed chief executive Marc Bolland.

"We delivered a great Christmas for our customers, from our stylish occasionwear to our innovative festive food."

M&S Direct sales were up 25% in the quarter, while international sales were up 4.5%, reflecting a good performance across most markets offset by difficult trading conditions in Ireland and Greece.

The retailer said in its outlook: "We continue to expect the trading conditions ahead to be more challenging as consumers’ disposable incomes come under pressure from increased VAT rates and the impact of public spending cuts.

"In addition, we are facing increased commodity prices and significantly tougher comparatives.

"As a result we remain cautious about the outlook but are confident that we are well positioned to meet the changing needs of our customers."