The falling price of fuel helped to depress sales figures released by Sainsbury’s.

In a trading statement for the second quarter of its financial year, covering the 16 weeks to September 27, it revealed that total retail sales for the second quarter were down 0.8% excluding fuel, when compared with the same period last year, but were down 2.3% when fuel was included.

Total retail sales for the first half were flat excluding fuel, but down 1.4% including fuel, and like-for-like sales were down 2.1% excluding fuel, but the fall was 3.4% including fuel.

At the end of the quarter Sainsbury’s had 594 supermarkets versus 660 convenience stores, and chief executive Mike Coupe commented: “Our convenience business reached annualised sales of £2bn and continues to grow strongly, at around 17%.

“During the quarter we opened 23 new convenience stores and refurbished 10 convenience stores. We opened two new supermarkets, three supermarket extensions and refurbished a further two supermarkets. We are on track to deliver five new Netto stores by the end of the year following our announcement on 20 June 2014. We will deliver around 750,000 square feet of new space this year, including around two new convenience stores per week.”