A second consecutive quarter of declining like-for-like sales at Sainsbury’s resulted in more misery for investors in the supermarket as shares plunged 3.9% back to 241p.

Total retail sales fell 0.4% in the 16 weeks to 24 September, resulting in a 1.1% decrease in like-for-like numbers. CEO Mike Coupe tried his best to put a positive spin on the slumping top line, pointing to a jump in like-for-like transactions and total volume growth in the quarter, and an improvement in trading at the recently acquired Argos.

But the share price is way below the year high of 292p in April (when Sainsbury’s beat Steinhoff in the race to acquire Argos) albeit higher than the lows of 214p in July. And the stock is down 5.4% in 2016, while a resurgent Tesco and Morrisons have leapt 20% and 48% respectively this year.

“For two years, Sainsbury’s defied the economic gravity of Britain’s supermarket shootout,” said John Ibbotson at Retail Vision. “The brand has come down to earth with a bump. Only the rudderless Asda is losing sales at a faster rate.”

HSBC’s Dave McCarthy remained cautious on the industry and on Sainsbury’s in particular. “It lacks the scale of Tesco and has a weaker balance sheet than Morrisons. We believe that this combination leaves Sainsbury fragile and vulnerable.”

And analysts at Jefferies noted the 4% increase of non-food sales and strong growth at Argos but worried about the declining core business. “It is this, now pretty concerning, dynamic that remains front of mind, rather than the notable progress achieved in building the group’s success in non-food,” the firm said.

Irn-Bru maker AG Barr slipped 0.9% to 518p on Tuesday as falling prices, mixed weather and lower sugar consumption sent first-half like-for-like sales down 2.8% to £125.6m. The stock fell another 2.8% on Wednesday as the market digested the proposed 10% cut to the workforce in the final stage of a three-year restructuring plan. CEO Roger White also labelled the proposed sugar tax as a “punitive and unnecessary distortion to competition” in the interim statement.