Soaring sales of champagne and luxury stay-at-home meals were not enough to stop Waitrose profits falling by 3% but CEO Mark Price offered hope to shoppers by promising prices will come down soon.

Waitrose yesterday reported a 3% drop in profits for the last six months to £100m, excluding gains made from property deals, despite a 2.5% improvement in like-for-like food sales over the period.

Total sales were up 5.5% to £2bn.

Despite fears that consumers would desert the upmarket group during the downturn, Waitrose reported that sales of its premium ‘As Good As Going Out’ range had increased by a third (33%), while sales of champagne were up by 10% and prime Aberdeen Angus by 110%.

The news comes after Morrisons announced record first-half profits of £309m, up almost 13%, after notching up impressive like-for-like sales growth of 7.6%.

Meanwhile, Price yesterday told the BBC that food prices could finally start to come down.

“Certainly, if you look at vegetables, the prices there are coming down,” he said. “Wheat prices across the world are stabilising because, generally speaking, harvests across the world have been much better this year.

“It's still true to say that livestock prices are going up [but] so as far as the consumer is concerned, what they are going to start seeing now is deflation in some areas and already we are seeing it in vegetables.”