Food sales have helped buoy a robust performance from retail outlets at Britain’s biggest rail stations.

Like-for-like sales were up more than 5% in the past three months, just as they were for the previous quarter, Network Rail said. Food and grocery outlets led the way, with supermarket sales up 13% across the country’s 16 busiest stations.

The strong performance, measured across almost 500 outlets using 560,000 sq ft of retail space, contrasts with falling sales on the high street.

“Whether the economy is good or bad people who commute to work by rail will still pass though our station, giving our retail partners a real edge over the high street which they have capitalised upon,” said Network Rail head of retail Gavin McKechnie.

Jane Bevis of the British Retail Consortium said the figures “demonstrate how shoppers are topping up at convenience stores, having managed the main weekly shopping budget very carefully”.

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