Tesco has revealed that it has kept on around 13,000 temporary workers to deal with staff absences caused by the coronavirus.

That accounts for nearly half of the 30,000 temporary workers brought in over Christmas, and will be kept on until at least the end of January.

Chief executive Ken Murphy, speaking to the PA News Agency, described absence levels as "manageable" and well below those seen in the early days of the pandemic, despite them being much higher than normal over the past six to eight weeks.

This action has helped Tesco increase its earnings outlook due to a strong festive performance as they saw a 0.3% rise in like-for-like sales over the six weeks to January 8 compared with a year earlier.

The supermarket said the better-than-expected trading has put it on track to deliver full-year retail operating profits slightly above its previous guidance of between £2.5 billion and £2.6 billion – its second upgrade in less than four months.

However, it warned of rising food prices as its costs have nearly doubled to 5%, with customers already seeing a 1% increase over the past 19 weeks.

Mr Murphy said: “It’s possible we’ll see some further inflation on food, but we’ll do our very best to minimise the impact on customers.

“Despite growing cost pressures and supply chain challenges in the industry, we continued to invest to protect availability, doubled down on our commitment to deliver great value and offered our strongest ever festive range.

“As a result, we outperformed the market, growing market share and strengthening our value position.”