Sainsbury's has reported a 20 per cent increase in online sales; a day after main rival Tesco reported an 11 per cent increase.

Sainsbury's, the third largest supermarket chain in the UK, said online food sales had grown by 20 per cent in the second quarter of 2009. During this period the company increased its online presence with the launch of a new non-foods online service. Justin King, chief executive of Sainsbury's said he was "pleased with the early progress of this new customer channel."

Yesterday Tesco, the largest supermarket chain in the UK, reported an 11 per cent increase in sales for the 26 weeks ending August 29, compared to the 16 week period of the Sainsbury's results.

Total sales at Sainsbury's increased by 3.2 per cent in the second quarter and like-for-like sales by 1.3 per cent. "Our performance in the first half continues to show good progress as we also invest for the future. While we expect market growth to slow in the coming months due to reduced inflation, the universal appeal of our focus on quality and value leaves us well positioned going forward," King said in the trading statement.

Tesco Direct, its non-foods online sales channel increased sales by 29 per cent, the company said yesterday and like-for-like sales across Tesco UK increased by a similar 3.1 per cent, showing how close the supermarkets are.

In 2008 Sainsbury's increased its annual profits by 11 per cent to £543 million through the ‘Making Sainsbury's Great Again' efficiency plan, which included revisions to its IT strategy.