Sainsbury's has reaffirmed its status as one of the sector's best performers this summer after its brand price promise struck a chord with shoppers and it benefited from its sponsorship of the Paralympics.
Its chief executive, Justin King, also said its own-label ranges had delivered a renewed growth spurt, as customers shop around for value and increasingly top up their weekly shop in its fast-growing convenience stores.
During the wet early summer, he said "people had battened down the hatches in June and July after splashing out on the Jubilee". But Mr King said they re-emerged ahead of the Olympics and Paralympics and during the "more normal weather" over the past eight weeks. While Mr King declined to be drawn on the boost Sainsbury's got from sponsoring the Paralympics, he said this event and the Olympics "definitely helped the public's mood" and had "united and inspired the nation". He added: "This has been a unique and special summer, during which we have delivered another quarter of good sales, outperforming the market in what remains a challenging retail environment."
The grocer, which has 1,066 stores, saw its like-for-like sales rise 1.9 per cent over the 16 weeks to 29 September, which was ahead of City expectations of a 1.4 per cent rise and its 31st consecutive quarter of growth.
Its performance also compares favourably with a 0.1 per cent rise in underlying UK sales at Tesco, the market leader, over a different period.
Jonathan Pritchard, an analyst at Oriel Securities, said: "It remains to be seen how long the goodwill associated with the sponsorship of the Paralympics persists here, but our view is that it will sustain, alongside the strong offer at Sainsbury's these days."
Mr King hailed the contribution of its "brand match" price initiative, which gives customers a money-off coupon at the till if the branded products in their basket would have been cheaper at Tesco and Asda, to its outperformance.
Total sales at Sainsbury's, the UK's third-largest grocer, jumped by 4.3 per cent over the second quarter, boosted by new stores. Its shares rose 5.7p to 352.5p.