The convenience sector continues to be a focus for Sainsbury’s as it posted a drop in retail sales for the second quarter of the year.

In its second quarter statement for the 16 weeks to 27 September, Sainsbury’s total retail sales were down 0.8% (ex. fuel) and dropped 2.3% (inc. fuel). The chain’s like-for-like retail sales for second quarter dropped 2.8% (ex. fuel) and down 4.1% (inc. fuel).

Sainsbury’s total retail sales were flat for the first half of the year (ex. fuel) and were down 1.4% (inc. fuel) and like-for-like sales dropped 2.1% (ex. fuel) and down 3.4% (inc. fuel).

Chief executive Mike Coupe said: “The market remains dynamic and fiercely competitive. The long-running trend of more frequent, convenient shopping has accelerated, resulting in smaller basket sizes. An increase in price investment and short-term competitor promotional activity, combined with favourable commodity markets, has resulted in deflation in many areas of our food business.”

Coupe said its convenience arm is performing well. “We are focused on serving our customers in the channel of their choice,” he said. “Our convenience business reached annualised sales of £2bn and continues to grow strongly, at around 17%.”

The supermarket expanded its convenience estate during the quarter, opening 23 new sites and refurbishing ten more, bringing its total number of convenience sites to 660. It aims to deliver 750,000 square feet of new space this year, including two new convenience stores per week.