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Sainsburys pays tribute to the strength and flexibility of its digital and technology platforms during the coronavirus outbreak.

Grocery today said it had outperformed expectations despite a pandemic, so total sales in the first quarter were up 8.5%. Crisis-related costs were expected to generate a profit of 500 million, but the shortfall was offset by food sales and moderate business rates.

The retailer said in a statement that our digital performance was particularly strong and sales more than doubled.

Our ability to respond quickly to customers who choose to purchase groceries, consumer products and clothing online reflects the strength and flexibility of the digital and technology platforms we have built.

According to the statement, our business has fundamentally changed since four months ago. This includes an increase in online grocery sales of 87% year-on-year, with orders of around 370,000 to 650,000 or more per week. Nearly 50% of new grocery online customers were new to Sainsburys.

SmartShop, where customers can scan their groceries and use another checkout, reached an average of 37% of sales, with some stores exceeding 50%. Sainsburys also has a one hour grocery delivery service across London, Chop Chop, which is now in 15 cities.

The 573 Argos standalone stores were all closed for most of the quarter, but customers can buy brands online and buy them at Courier or Click & Collect at Sainsburys stores. As a result, Argos grew by 10.7%, courier sales were up 78%, and click and collect sales were up 53%.

Lockdown protection is beginning to ease towards the end of the quarter, with 174 stores reopening across the UK and Ireland in Phase 1 and another 100 in Phase 2 in July.

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