By Jonathan Davies

Sainsbury's has reported a fall in like-for-like sales for the fifth consecutive quarter and expects the market to "remain challenging for the foreseeable future".

Like-for-like sales, which excludes new stores, were down 1.9% in the 10 weeks to 14 March, compared with the same period last year.

Even total sales, which include new stores, were down 0.3% as prices and food deflation continued to have a dramatic effect on the supermarket industry.

However, Sainsbury's shares rose sharply in early trading after the supermarket's performance was better than expected.

Sainsbury's said it has now reduced prices on 1,100 items which has seen a 3% rise in sales on such products.

The supermarket chain said general merchandise and clothing performed well during the quarter, with sales up 6%. And sales at its convenience store, Sainsbury's Local, were up 14%.

Retail Vision director John Ibbotson said: "What's very clear is that Mike Coupe's Strategic Review needs to be implemented faster. There has to be greater urgency at Sainsbury's or it will see bigger sales falls in the future. This is not one that will play itself out over time."