Sainsbury’s convenience business has continued to fuel its overall performance, with sales up 18%, according to its third quarter results.

The robust growth figures were buoyed by particularly strong festive sales with the grocer’s Sainsbury’s Local stores having taken almost £7m on Christmas Eve.

The figures highlighted how customers were choosing convenience stores to top-up their main supermarket shops, “especially at the busiest times of the year,” chief executive Justin King said.

Sainsbury’s also opened an additional 19 convenience stores in the 14 weeks to January 4, taking its total number of convenience stores to well over 500. It also refurbished 11 stores.

“As with last year, we expect customers to spend cautiously in the few months following Christmas, in an attempt to rebalance the household finances. The general economic backdrop remains uncertain for many families, so helping them to Live Well for Less remains the key to continuing our market outperformance,” King added.

Total sales for the third quarter were up 2.5%