Sainsbury’s has upgraded its profit outlook as it makes “good progress against the plan to put food back at its heart”. 

Sainsbury’s recorded like-for-like sales up 1.6% in the first quarter to June 26 as all of its categories outperformed expectations.

Online grocery sales did particularly well, up 29%, while grocery sales in general inched up 0.8%.

Clothing sales also jumped 58%, while general merchandise sales dropped by 1.4% compared with last year’s elevated levels, but still performed better than expected.

The grocer said it expects underlying profit before tax of at least £660m in the financial year to March 2022, with progress weighted towards the first half.

Sainsbury’s has been on a mission to put “food back at the heart”, offering better value for customers through “Sainsbury’s quality” and its Aldi Price Match scheme, while it is on track to launch 1,900 new lines this year.

Chief executive Simon Roberts said: “We continue to make good progress against our plan to put food back at the heart of Sainsbury’s and have good momentum within the business.

“Our colleagues are doing a brilliant job of giving great customer service and continuing to adapt as restrictions ease and shopping habits change.

“Over the coming months we expect to see customer shopping patterns normalise further and we are well set up to serve them however they want to shop.

“We are focused on offering our customers even better value and regularly creating new and exciting products for them to try. From today we are reducing prices by £50m on everyday products from strawberries and cherries to bacon and potatoes, helping customers make the most of this summer.

“I’m delighted that customers are responding to the changes we are making and that we are growing our market share. 

“Our recent launch of Helping Everyone Eat Better will help customers find great-tasting food that is good for them and also good for the planet, an important step on our journey to reduce our impact on the environment.”