Greggs has reported a like-for-like sales decline of 3.9% for the most recent eight weeks of trading, compared to the same period in 2019.

However it said that while considerable uncertainty remained, profits for the year could be around 2019 – materially higher than the board’s previous expectation.

Like-for-like sales for the first 18 weeks of the year were down 13.5% on 2019 levels, with total sales £352m over the period, compared to £280m in 2020 and £373m, in 2019.

Greggs opened 34 new shops in the 18-week period to 8 May, and closed 11, with the focus of its estate expansion on locations where performance has been most robust during the pandemic, such as retail parks, roadside locations and petrol stations.

Delivery is now available from 800 shops, representing 8.2% of company-managed shop sales in the past eight weeks.

The bakery food to go retailer said it saw significant pick up in sales with the reopening of non-essential retail from 12 April, in part reflecting the pent-up demand for retail which has seen footfall boosted on the high street.

Greggs is anticipating increased competition for sales as further relaxations are relaxed and cafes and restaurants are able to eat indoors, but it said it was pleased with its progress in both walk-in and delivery channels so far this year.

“If restrictions continue to ease in line with current plans then we now expect our overall sales performance for the year to be stronger than we had previously anticipated,” it said. “Costs have been well-controlled and the rate of cost inflation we are experiencing is in line with our plans for the year.”