Asda has recorded a 2.2% uplift in like-for-like sales in the 12 weeks to March 31.

Customer numbers at the Leeds-based grocer were up by 2.9% like-for-like in the first quarter of the year while basket spend was up 2.1%.

Total sales, excluding acquisitions, VAT and fuel, grew by 7.1% and the grocer recorded strong online sales growth of 19.2% in the quarter. 

Asda reported a 5% increase in like-for-like sales excluding acquisitions, VAT and fuel for the quarter.

Walmart International president and chief executive Doug McMillon said Asda’s gross profit rate was “relatively flat”.

Asda chief executive Andy Clarke said: “I’m proud of the work our stores, depots and teams at Asda House and George House put in during the quarter, to build on our end-of-year momentum and deliver market-leading growth. 

McMillon said: “Customers really valued our price leadership, the ongoing improvements in quality and our commitment to warm and friendly service.

“With customers trusting Every Day Low Price, we carried the momentum gained over Christmas into the first quarter. The Asda price guarantee attracted more than 500,000 online checks per week in the first quarter.”

He added: “The UK’s gross profit rate, excluding acquisitions, was relatively flat compared to last year. Excluding acquisitions and last year’s pension costs, first quarter expenses as a percentage of sales grew slower than sales. We continue to sell at lower prices by embedding cost savings programs in operations.

“Asda added three new stores in the quarter and ended the first quarter with a total of 544 stores, including 32 Supercentres, 310 Superstores, 27 Living stores and 175 supermarkets.”

Asda’s first quarter like-for-like figure excludes the first week of the year - covered in its fourth quarter announcement - but benefitted from an additional day’s trading due to 2012 being a leap year.