Morrisons insisted this morning (3 May) that it has made a “satisfactory” start to the year, despite booking its first drop in like-for-like sales since 2005.

Like-for-like sales, which strip out the impact of store openings, fell 1% in its first quarter, which ran for the 13 weeks to 29 April. However, higher fuel prices meant that, including petrol, like-for-like sales were up 0.9%, the company added.

The group attributed the drop to poor consumer sentiment, which is the result of a “challenging” economic environment that has put pressure on disposable incomes.

The retailer said it remains focused on delivering “Morrisons quality”, leveraging its vertically integrated supply chain and managing its cost base, while also keeping prices down.

“The uncertain economic background is expected to remain challenging for the consumer and accordingly the board remains cautious. Our performance in the first quarter was broadly in line with our expectations and our financial outlook for the year remains unchanged,” the company said.

In the quarter, total sales were up by 1.5%, or 3.1% including fuel.