Tesco’s filing stations are helping to boost its sales performance according to latest figures it has just released, despite deflation in fuel prices over the period and its Fuel Save promotion which it says enables its Clubcard customers to obtain the cheapest fuel in the UK.

In its trading statement for the 19 weeks to January 3 it said total UK sales including VAT and fuel for the full 19 weeks to 3 January declined by 0.7% compared with sales in the same period a year ago. However, when fuel was stripped out from the figures the decline was greater at 1.3%.

The supermarket group also broke down the figures for the first 13 weeks (Q3) and for the six weeks over Christmas and New Year. These showed that sales including fuel in Q3 were down 1.7% compared with Q3 the previous year, but when fuel was excluded the decline was much steeper at 2.6%.

Even over the later six-week period, during which fuel prices plummeted by 12ppl, fuel had a positive effect on the sales figures. Sales including fuel were up 1.5% compared with the same period last year, while sales excluding fuel were up less at 1.2%.

Accompanying the trading update chief executive Dave Lewis also gave details of changes being made to try to arrest the decline in the business. He said the company would close 43 unprofitable stores across the UK - more than half of which will be Tesco Express convenience stores – although it did not specify which ones.

In addition the company has shelved plans to open a further 49 new “very large” stores, some of which have already been built.