Morrisons has reported better-than-expected sales figures for the Christmas period, surprising market experts.

Most analysts had forecast Morrisons to see sales fall over the period, given the immense pressure it, and its rivals, are under from the likes of Aldi and Lidl. But the supermarket posted a 0.2% rise in like-for-like sales for the nine weeks to 3 January, compared with the same period last year.

It is the first time Morrisons has reported a rise in sales for more than a year. In fact, one retail analyst expected the supermarket to report a 2-3% fall.

Total sales, which include figures from new stores, were down 1.2%, however.

Morrisons said its price cutting strategy helped it to post the small increase. The supermarket has cut its prices by 3.2% over the past year, and 7% over the past two years. In turn, it said that has resulted in the average transaction value rising 1.3%.

Despite the rise, Morrisons maintained its profit forecast of between £295m and £310m for the full year.

Morrisons kick started an important week for the supermarkets, in which publish their Christmas trading results.