WHSmith has revealed better than forecast third-quarter sales and said it is confident on its full-year prospects.

In the 13 weeks to May 30, total group sales at the newspaper, books and stationery retailer grew 1 per cent with like-for-like sales down 4 per cent.

WHSmith, which has 557 stores, reported high street like-for-like sales were down 5 per cent.

At WHSmith Travel – its airport, train station, hospitals and motorway service station business – like-for-like sales fell 2 per cent

The retailer said in a stock exchange announcement: “Whilst airport passenger numbers have, as expected, remained soft, we have outperformed.”

WHSmith said that its financial position is “in line with market expectations”. “Our balance sheet remains strong and we continue to generate high levels of cash from our operations,” it added.

The retailer said that the economic environment “remains uncertain and, whilst we continue to be cautious about consumer spending, we are confident in the outcome for the full year”.

Numis analyst Andy Wade said that the update was “reassuring”, with high street “incrementally ahead of expecatations”.

He added that “reflecting the continuation of positive gross margin trends and the delivery of targeted cost saves, a solid first half, and today’s reassuring update, we move to upgrade our pre-tax profit forecasts for the full year to August 2009 and full year to August 2010 by 2 to 3 per cent”.