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Consumers show strong appetite for budgeting, says Sainsbury’s

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Talk of a move by consumers to cheaper products was borne out by Sainsbury’s today when it said a multichannel initiative to point shoppers towards budget home cooking had brought 1m hits to its website since it was launched last month.

Products featured in the supermarket’s Feed Your Family for £50 meal planner have grown their sales by more than 20% since launch in May. The planner, which features 21 home-cooked meals, includes online content and an iPhone app allowing shoppers to take their meal plan shopping lists to the supermarket.

Giving an update on trading in the first quarter of its financial year today, the company also said its basics range was its fastest growing brand.

The move towards budget items was perhaps reflected in the company’s sales figures. Overall during the 12 weeks to June 11, like-for-like sales rose by 4.8%, or a more modest 1.9% when fuel was excluded. Total sales were up by 7.3%, or 4.3% excluding fuel.

Online grocery sales were up by more than 20%, while sales of general merchandise were supported by the roll-out of the Click & Collect service to 240 more stores, including convenience stores, taking the total number of stores offering the service to 400. By Christmas the company aims to offer it at 800 shops.

Justin King, chief executive, said: “We’ve delivered a solid sales performance, in line with our expectations, in spite of the continued tough consumer environment.”

April’s Royal Wedding gave a boost to business during the period, when customers bought nearly 300 miles of bunting, 159,000 flags and 49,000 mugs. The company also “sold the most champagne we have ever sold outside of Christmas.”

But, added the company, while demonstrating a willingness to treat themselves on big occasions, “our customers continue to manage their spend carefully. The increase in fuel costs is placing further pressure on consumer disposable income.”

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