Sainsbury’s has posted strong sales growth for the fourth quarter as it issued its trading statement for the 10 weeks to 16 March 2013.

Total sales for the quarter were up 6.3 per cent (excluding fuel) and like-for-like sales for were up 3.6 per cent (excluding fuel).

Weekly customer transactions increased by more than 800,000 year-on-year and the retailer achieved its target of

five per cent gross space growth for the year.

Chief executive Justin King said: “We have delivered strong sales in the fourth quarter, increasing market share and outperforming targets in what remains a tough retail environment.”

He said the retailer’s focus on quality is an important reason why customers choose to shop at Sainsbury’s and the reason why it is seeing strong growth in own-label products.

However, the retailer’s general merchandise and clothing business is growing at nearly three times the rate of food. King added: “We expect the challenging economic environment to continue through the coming year. By helping our customers to Live Well for Less through our ongoing commitment to great quality own-brand products, competitive pricing and targeted promotions via Nectar and coupon-at-till, we are well positioned to continue to outperform the market.”