Sainsbury’s plans to open 20 more convenience stores over the next 12 months after topping £3bn sales through its Locals stores for the first time.

Sales across its more than 800 c-stores grew 10% last year and were up 7% on pre-pandemic levels. In total there were more than 45 million visits to Sainsbury’s Local stores over the period.

“We know how much customers value being able to shop when and how they want, particularly in the post-pandemic world,” said Sainsbury’s retail and digital director Clodagh Moriarty.

“Convenience is a growing part of our business and seeing our convenience stores reach today’s £3bn sales milestone is a huge achievement and testament to how we are delivering what customers want.”

The growth in demand had been driven by the fact that customers wanted greater flexibility over where they shopped, and the fact that more people had been returning to the office in greater numbers, Sainsbury’s said.

The 20 new stores will add to 12 already opened by Sainsbury’s over the past year. It includes two new Local stores opened in Leeds and Cambridge this week.

They follow three new stores in February, opened at Waterloo Station Local and Shepherds Bush The Broadway in London, as well as the relaunch of Sainsbury’s Bramhall Woodford Road Local in Bramhall, Stockport.

The new 2,452 sq ft Waterloo Station store is located in The Sidings, a new retail development inside a former Eurostar tunnel. It’s fitted with new Smartshop technology, enabling customers to pay for products using their smartphones.