Chocolatier Thorntons has posted a first-quarter sales fall at all its main divisions but directors are confident in a strong Christmas product line-up.

Thorntons reported that total sales fell by 7.6% to £46.5 million in the period to October 1, which it said was in line with internal expectations.

Own Store sales dropped by 10.1% to £23.4 million and like-for-likes by 7.8% as cost-conscious shoppers opted for promotional lines. Franchise sales fell 6.4% to £2.6 million for similar reasons.

Commercial sales slid by 4.9% to £18.9 million, which Thorntons said reflected the timing of retailers’ Christmas orders, which will fall into the second quarter. The Christmas order book is” strong and in line with expectations”.

Thorntons Direct sales sank by 8.1% to £1.2 million because of the loss of a large corporate order but consumer sales online advanced 5.1%.

 Thorntons chief executive Jonathan Hart said: “As expected, the retail environment continues to be challenging with weakness in high street footfall.  

“Our consumers remain cost conscious and continue to select promoted products.

“Our programme to improve own-store merchandising and layout launches in October. We are now starting to roll out our new ranges of ‘little gifts’ into the stores and are pleased with our strong Christmas seasonal offer across all channels.

 “The commercial sales order book for Christmas is in line with our expectations and we would expect to report strong year on year growth within this channel by the half year.”