Car and cycle accessories retailer Halfords has reported that first quarter group sales grew 9.6% in the 13 weeks to July 2.

Like-for-like sales fell however for the period, down 2.1% for its retail division and  dropping 1.9% across the group, including Nationwide Autocentres which it acquired in February.

Halfords said it experienced a “sluggish” start to spring, with poor weather in April and consumer jitters around the General Election all impacting sales.

The retailer delayed its summer promotions campaign till mid July so that it would not clash with the World Cup.

Online sales continued to be strong for the group, up 70% year-on-year.

Halfords chief executive David Wild said: “The resilience of the Halfords business model is confirmed by further like-for-like growth in our core categories despite the consumer headwinds experienced across the retail sector.

“Our focus remains on managing the controllable elements of the business. Actions taken to manage gross margins, reduce costs and increase efficiency, are delivering the benefits we expected.  The integration of Nationwide is continuing well and I remain pleased with early performance and progress.”

He added: “We are cautious about the macro-economic environment but, through the execution of our proven strategy, we remain on track to deliver full year earnings growth in line with previous guidance.”