The owner of High Street fashion chain Primark has said sales have been higher than expected since stores reopened after lockdown, but are still lower than last year.
Associated British Foods said sales since reopening would hit £2bn by the end of the year.
However, that would be 12% lower on a like-for-like basis than in 2019.
Primark’s four biggest stores, in Birmingham, Manchester and London, were especially hard hit, it said.
“If the four large UK destination city centre stores are excluded, the decline is 5%,” it added.
Primark’s biggest UK store is in Birmingham and has 160,000 sq ft of floorspace. The next largest, in Manchester, is 155,000 sq ft.
Its two stores on London’s Oxford Street are 82,000 sq ft and 70,000 sq ft respectively.
“After a period of store closure, we are encouraged by the strength of our sales,” AB Foods said in its latest trading update.
“In the latest four-week UK market data for sales in all channels, Primark achieved our highest-ever value and volume shares for this time of year.”
The firm said trading in its food divisions had also been better than predicted so far in the fourth quarter.
“Since reopening Primark stores, we have seen increasing numbers of transactions driven by footfall,” it added.
“The average basket size was initially significantly higher than last year, reflecting some pent-up demand, and while this out-performance has reduced in recent weeks, it remains higher than a year ago.
“We have continued our policy of offering the best prices, and markdowns for the period since reopening have been low.”
Primark had made it clear before its stores reopened on 15 June that there would be no special discounts to shift stock.
AB Foods said full-year profits at Primark in the year to 12 September would be at least at the top end of its previously advised £300m to £350m range.
Last year, the equivalent figure was £913m.
AB Foods said its grocery revenues would be bigger than last year, with growth in brands such as Twinings tea and Ryvita crispbread.
However, it said sales of Ovaltine were held back by the impact of coronavirus on impulse sales, particularly in Thailand and Vietnam.
Primark post-lockdown sales head for £2bn