Price cuts on Champagne over the Christmas period have helped to drive strong sales rises at major retailers in the UK.

The news will provide some relief to a Champagne industry hit harder than most in the drinks sector by the global economic malaise.

Champagne sales have risen strongly at the three largest UK supermarkets during the Christmas period.

A spokesperson for Asda told just-drinks today (12 January) that Champagne sales rose by 53% in volume and 40% in value for the festive period.

Strong discounting on Champagne helped to boost consumer demand.

"This was driven in part by market leading offers on Moet and Taittinger (GBP15) and an award winning on-point-promotion Champagne at GBP10 (Pierre Darcys)," said Asda, which is owned by US retail giant Wal-Mart.

Leading UK supermarket Tesco today reported its best Christmas trading for three years. "Customers were looking for ways to treat themselves with 35% more bottles of Champagne sold than last year," said the group.

Rival chain Sainsbury's also reported strong Champagne volume sales, more than trebling sales of its private label Blanc de Noirs brand, which it sold at GBP15 per 75cl bottle during the period.

Despite offering hope to the Champagne sector, the figures will likely be muted by concern over deep discounting.

Several Champagne producers have privately expressed concern over the fierce price cuts implemented by retailers both at home in France and abroad during the Christmas period.

Poor Champagne sales in the last year have led to a short-term oversupply, which helped to propel the discounting.

A spokesperson for Champagne trade body CIVC told just-drinks late last year: "Discounting on Champagne happens every year. It would be a concern only if this period increased and if it spread out."