Ocado has never been best known for making a profit, but plunging to a £211m loss in the first half went some way to justifying investor scepticism so far this year.

Announcing interim results on Thursday, Ocado said it experienced an 8% drop in sales from its retail joint venture with M&S, which fell back to £1.1bn. Active customers grew to 867,000 at the end of the period, up 12% on the prior year. However, average basket in the period dropped 13% back to £120 as customers cut basket volumes by 15%, with average selling price up just 3%.

That slowdown meant its retail division’s EBITDA fell to just £31m from £104m in the prior year, reflecting a reduction in volumes relative to fixed costs of new capacity, as well as higher utility, fuel and customer acquisition costs.

Overall group revenues were down a more modest 4% to £1.3bn as strong growth in international solutions and UK solutions and logistics partially offset the Ocado Retail fall.

Revenues in the international solutions segment more than doubled to £59m, while UK solutions revenues were up 10.7% to £395.6m.

But the drop in retail contribution saw group EBITDA swing to a loss of £14m from a profit of £61m in the first half last year.

A whopping £157.3m impairment charge, including £76.6m on its property and equipment, saw its overall pre-tax loss balloon to £211m from just £38m in the same period last year.

Long-time Ocado sceptic Shore Capital called the numbers a “horror show”, summarising: “Whilst the shares have fallen, risen, fallen, risen and fallen, the financial output has remained broadly the same 22 years in: unprofitable but promising some jam tomorrow.”

Investors were more sanguine about the results, with Ocado shares dropping 2.5% on Thursday to 755.6p – albeit part of a 51% slash in the company’s value so far in 2022 as online grocery growth fell flat.

Barclays suggested much of the bad news had already been priced in, noting the results were “broadly as expected” and “there may be some relief that Ocado has reiterated full year guidance after previous cuts”.

Bernstein said recent fundraising had left Ocado in a more secure position: “Liquidity issues have been solved in the mid-term and it’s now about slow and steady execution”.

Meanwhile, fellow online food delivery player Deliveroo on Monday downgraded its sales forecasts for the year as squeezed consumers cut back their spending on takeaways.

In a trading update, the group revealed gross transaction value (GTV) growth for the second quarter plunged to just 2%, compared with 12% in the first three months of the year. GTV for the UK and Ireland was down to 4%, versus 12% in the previous quarter, and internationally growth was down to 1% from 11%.

Deliveroo blamed “increased consumer headwinds” during the quarter and said the figures reflected elevated demand a year ago during lockdowns.

However, the company’s shares ended Monday up 6.9% to 91p, as the downgraded sales expectations will translate into a better bottom-line performance as it invests less in growth.

Hargreaves Lansdown explained investor optimism despite the downbeat announcement: “Tighter cost control is now set to be the focus for the company as it deals with the headwinds, with marketing budgets set to be reined in.”