Following a festive period in which shoppers increased their spend on premium products, Sainsbury’s has adjusted its 2021-22 profit forecast to at least £720 million.

According to Sainsbury’s latest market share report, Q3 grocery sales were slightly below 2020-21 levels. Compared to data from the same period in 2019-20, however, grocery sales were up 6.6% and sales remained ahead of last year over the key Christmas weeks. Similarly, weekly online grocery orders increased to over 700,000 per week over the Christmas period. Orders in Christmas week were up 41% year-on-year. Total online grocery sales in Q3 grew by 92% compared with 2019 figures.

The company also reported delivering “strong food availability” for Christmas, despite the ongoing supply chain challenges.

Products from the Sainsbury’s Quality range that were price matched with Aldi products, including turkey crowns, gammon joints and festive vegetables, sold over 20% more volume in 2021. Sainsbury’s has now launched a new wave of the Aldi price match campaign with a focus on 150 fresh products.

The retailer launched over 300 new Christmas products, including 100 premium Taste the Difference products. Product sales in this range were up 13% over two years in the key Christmas weeks, as many customers chose to trade up.

Taste the Difference meat, fish and poultry sales were up 25%, whilst produce sales increased by 16% and bakery sales rose 12% on 2019 figures. The retailer also recorded selling its “biggest ever” volume of Taste the Difference mince pies.

Simon Roberts, chief executive of J Sainsbury plc, described the trade backdrop as “challenging”, yet the company has now upgraded the 2021/22 profit guidance of £660 million issued last July. The supermarket now expects to report underlying profit before tax of at least £720 million this financial year.