Sainsbury’s convenience store estate grew by 16% in the third quarter amid a decline in supermarket sales.

In total, retail sales were down 0.4 % for the third quarter, excluding fuel, while like-for-like retail sales were also down 1.7%. The multiple blamed the decline on food deflation and a drop in fuel prices.

However, the group opened 25 new convenience stores and refurbished a further seven in the quarter. Sainsbury’s Local stores took over £8m on Christmas Eve, making it the largest ever day for convenience.

Mike Coupe, chief executive of Sainsbury’s, said: “The trend of more frequent and local shopping continues and we saw growth of over 16% in our convenience business in the quarter.”

This week Sainsbury’s reduced the price on over 700 products, including in the meat, fish and poultry categories. It has now reduced over 1,000 products since announcing plans to invest £150m in price reductions in November.

Coupe predicted that the outlook for the remainder of the financial year would remain challenging, with food price deflation likely to continue.

He added: “Our performance in the third quarter showed an improving trend quarter-on-quarter. However, given the uncertainty in the trading environment, food price deflation and the price reductions we announced this week, we currently expect our fourth quarter like-for-like to be similar to that of our first half.

“We are confident we will help our customers Live Well for Less throughout 2015.”