‘Sainsburied’ screams the headline in today’s edition of The Sun.

It’s a nice line. Just as pleasingly, though less dramatically, the Financial Times notes that ‘Good shares cost less at Sainsbury’s’.

Both are rather fun, though you might quibble with the topicality of a line riffing on a slogan Sainsbury’s ditched donkey’s years ago.

But then if you only read the headline on The Sun’s coverage, you might get the impression they’re boarding up the retailer’s Holborn HQ and calling it a day.

Needless to say, that would be overstating things. Shares in the supermarket did take a significant hit, down 5% in yesterday’s trading on the stock exchange, following its latest sales figures.

And like-for-like growth of just 1% is far less impressive than the retailer’s numbers over Christmas, when Sainsbury’s was a clear winner among the multiples. Inflation and the rise in VAT will have contributed to that too, though Justin King yesterday insisted his company did its best to shield shoppers from the hike to 20%.

(Incidentally, its like-for-likes were up more than 4% including fuel – which King suggested at least showed shoppers were choosing to buy their petrol on Sainsbury’s forecourts.)

Remember that the period on which Sainsbury’s has just reported is always the weakest for retailers. And set against a backdrop of today’s general retail figures the performance starts to look more robust. High street sales were down 0.8% in February, a worse slump than the 0.6% widely expected, while food volumes were down 2.2% over this time last year.

As Shore Capital’s Clive Black said: “If Sainsbury’s is reporting this, there are going to be some horror stories on the high street.”

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