This figure compares with like-for-like sales down 7.5 per cent for the same period last year.
Like-for-likes improved across the last nine weeks of the period, becoming broadly flat. The group said sales of grey market branded World Cup-related products was behind the improvement, despite the company's decision a year ago to reduce the level of grey market activity within the business.
Matalan's market share remained at 3 per cent, mostly because of improved ranges and better marketing, according to the retailer.
Chief executive John King said: 'While we are encouraged by improvements made across the business, we continue to trade in a difficult marketplace and are planning accordingly.'
Matalan founder and chairman John Hargreaves could face a revolt at the group's AGM later today, according to a report in the Financial Times.
US-based Harris Associates, Matalan's largest institutional investor with a 6.9 per cent stake, is expected to vote against the chairman's re-election. Other investors are also expected to register their disapproval.
The revolt follows reports that Hargreaves is about to make a bid for the retailer and take it private. Hargreaves owns a 53 per cent stake in the discount retailer.