In the 11 weeks to March 19 and one week estimated sales to March 26, the retailer increased sales by 7.2 per cent, including petrol, compared with the same period last year. Without petrol the rise was only 5.4 per cent. Like-for-like sales rose 3.7 per cent including petrol sales or 1.7 per cent excluding petrol.
Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King said he was pleased with the results and that they demonstrated the retailer's commitment to improving availability and cutting prices. He noted that the period received a boost from Valentine's Day and Mother's Day.
In an effort to manage expectations, he warned there was still much to be done to turn the retailer's fortunes around. He said: 'We are still only six months into implementing the plans we outlined last October. We recognise there is still a long way to go and must continue to be realistic about the task in hand. It will take time to deliver sustainable sales growth to achieve our target of£2.5 billion extra sales by 2007/2008.'