UK retailer Sainsbury’s has seen sales of value and premium own-brand products rise as consumers look to cut spending on basic items whilst still treating themselves to premium foods.

Sainsbury’s own-brand “basics” line is up 15% year-on-year,” a spokesperson for the supermarket chain told just-food. “Our premium “Taste The Difference” restaurant-quality sales are also showing strong growth.”

The company attributed the trend to its “savvy customers”. CEO Justin King said customers are increasingly “shopping like a chef” – saving money on basic ingredients in order to splash out on others.

“Consumers are becoming more savvy in their shopping habits. We are seeing a high-low trade-off,” the company commented.

According to Shore Capital analyst Clive Black, the trend is indicative of the more difficult economic conditions that are forcing consumers to curtail spending.

“Sainsbury’s customer base is particularly exposed to the tougher economic conditions the UK is experiencing… more so than its competitors,” Black told just-food.

“These customers are now searching for value. Some of them are doing this by turning to discounters like Aldi and LIDL. Within Sainsbury’s the company is trying to help them out by increasing their value range of entry price products.”

According to Black, the news is not indicative of a full-scale recession as consumers are also spending more on high quality, high priced goods.

“There is still some money around and while people will buy value commodities they are still looking for higher end foods. What it is evidence of is a slow-down in the economy, but not a full blown recession,” Black concluded.