Sainsbury’s has reported like-for-like retail sales were down 1.9% in its fourth-quarter trading statement as “the trading environment remains challenging”. 

The results for the 10 weeks to 14 March 2015 revealed total retail sales were down 0.3% (or 3.9% including fuel).

More than 1,100 prices have been reduced since its £150m price investment was announced in November, "ensuring our price position relative to our major competitors has never been stronger". It also absorbed record levels of food deflation in its strongest categories - dairy, fresh ready meals, meat, fish and poultry.

During the quarter, Sainsbury’s saw volume growth across the food business and an average uplift of more than 3% on the products where price reductions were made.

Growth in the convenience business remained “strong at 14%” and 23 further stores were opened during the quarter. Online grocery orders increased by 14% and, by the end of the year, customers will be able to click-and-collect their orders from 100 sites.

Challenging market

Mike Coupe, chief executive, said: “The trading environment remains challenging and the decisions we have taken to improve our competitiveness are reflected in our quarterly performance.

“We expect the market to remain challenging for the foreseeable future. Food deflation is likely to persist for the rest of this calendar year, and competitive pressures on price will continue.

"However, we believe that the great value and quality of our products, combined with a strong focus on developing our multi-channel offer, will enable us to outperform our supermarket peers.”