Marks & Spencer saw food sales increase by 5.3% in the 26 weeks to 28 September 2013.

However, the retailer still faces problems in other parts of its business, mainly clothes, which saw its group like-for-like sales fall by 1.5% in the first half the year.

The company said group sales had increased in the period to £4.9bn, up from £4.7bn the year before. However, its underlying profit before tax dropped to £251.6m, from £287.3m in 2012.

Marc Bolland, chief executive, said: “Marks & Spencer made progress with a strong performance in Food, International and M&”

In a statement, M&S added: “While consumer confidence appears to be improving, there is little evidence as yet of this translating to increased spending in the retail sector. Given continued pressure on disposable incomes, we remain cautious about the outlook for the remainder of the year.

“However, we are well set up for the key Christmas trading period, with more innovation and choice than ever before. Our overall expectations for the full year remain unchanged.”