• Sales increased 2.4% during the third quarter
  • UK sales were up 1.7%
  • UK like-for-like sales dipped 0.6% 

UK supermarket retailer Tesco said its clothing division has continued to "outperform the market" as the company recorded a 2.4% increase in sales over the third quarter.

The UK's largest supermarket operator said that while like-for-like sales were down in general merchandise, clothing recorded another quarter of positive growth.

The company attributed the decline in general merchandise to a weakness in consumer demand seen across the market as a whole. It is working to turn around the division by allocating less space to categories like consumer electronics and home entertainment, and focusing further on clothing, nursery and home which are delivering better top and bottom line growth.

"Clothing - which has already received some of this extra focus - has continued to outperform the market, with another quarter of positive like-for-like sales growth," the company said.

"This is particularly evident in women's wear, essentials and footwear, which are all benefiting from range improvements in F&F, together with improved merchandising."

Over the quarter ended 24 November, the company said UK sales grew by 1.7%, while like-for-like sales fell 0.6%.

"Our general merchandise performance overall in the UK was not good enough, and we are renewing our efforts to deliver sustainable, profitable growth in this part of the business," said chief executive Philip Clarke.

"We have seen a further weakening in consumer spending in Central Europe, although the effects of this have been partly offset by a better quarter in Asia.

"I am looking forward to the important seasonal period ahead, and am confident in our plans to deliver further improvements in our shopping trip for customers."