Sainsbury's boosted by strong food sales

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Shopper in Sainsbury'sImage source, PA Media

Sainsbury’s has reported strong food sales after spending heavily on keeping prices low to attract customers.

The UK’s second largest supermarket said its food business was “firing on all cylinders”, with grocery sales growing by 9.4% over the past year.

However, other areas were weaker, with sales of clothing and fuel falling.

Pre-tax profits fell 15% to £277m, reflecting costs related to its decision to wind down its banking division.

Underlying profits rose 1.6% to £701m, which was slightly higher than expected, and Sainsbury’s said it was “confident of delivering strong profit growth in the year ahead”.

Supermarkets have been fighting hard for customers, with shoppers still feeling the effects of steep price rises over the past two years, which have ratcheted up the cost of living.

Sainsbury’s response has been to focus heavily on the food side of its business, and it said it has spent £780m over the past three years on keeping prices low, including promotions such as Nectar prices and price-matching budget chain Aldi.