Sainsbury’s like-for-like fuel revenues were down 1.4% according to its latest figures - for the third quarter up to January 9. Like-for-like retail sales for third quarter were down 0.4 per cent (excl fuel), but down 1.8 per cent (inc fuel).Total retail sales for the same period were up 0.8% excluding fuel, but down 0.7% when fuel was included.

The company’s chief executive Mike Coupe, said the company had traded well during the festive period, and the company’s good performance in the quarter meant like-for-like sales in the second half of the year were expected to be better than the first.

“We opened 16 convenience stores in the quarter and had our biggest ever day for convenience sales on December 24,” he said. “Grocery online sales grew at nearly ten per cent and orders by 15 per cent. We had a record week in the quarter, delivering over 289,000 online orders. We now have 101 Click and Collect sites nationwide.

“Food deflation and pressures on pricing will ensure that the market remains challenging for the foreseeable future. We will continue to remain competitive on price and our performance this quarter provides further evidence that our strategy is working.”