Sainsbury's, the UK's third-largest grocer, today (8 October) booked a 3.9% rise in like-for-like sales for the first half of its fiscal year after sales accelerated during its second quarter.

The company said like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, for the six months to 4 October were up 3.9%. Second-quarter sales by the same measure rose 4.3%. That growth was up from the 3.4% reported in Sainsbury's first quarter.

Chief executive Justin King said economic conditions remained "particularly challenging". He said: "We expect this to continue throughout the second half, but we have developed the Sainsbury's offer to perform in these conditions."

King said Sainsbury's had expanded its Basics own-label range and "refocused" its promotional efforts.

"During the quarter we continued to develop our offer to help customers manage tighter budgets without the need to sacrifice food quality. Customers have responded well and transaction numbers continue to grow," King said.

Group sales, including fuel, were up 8.3% during Sainsbury's first half.

Sainsbury's will announce its interim results on 12 November.