SELLING more than one million pumpkins and 140,000 Halloween fancy dress costumes capped another successful trading period for Morrisons as its turnaround continued.

For the first time in five years, the Bradford-based supermarket boosted like-for-like sales for the fourth consecutive quarter as it continued to win back more shoppers.

Like for like sales, excluding fuel, rose by 1.6 per cent and 3.4 per cent if fuel sales are included. Earlier this year quarterly like-for-like sales rose by 0.7 per cent and two per cent.

Total sales in the quarter were down 1.2 per cent, reflecting supermarket closures and the sale of the M Local convenience store chain.

Chief executive David Potts, who has instigated Morrisons turnaround plan since talking the helm following the removal of former boss Dalton Philips, said: “Our like-for-like sales have now been positive for a year, which is thanks to the hard work and dedication of the whole Morrisons team.

“There is a lot more we plan to do. We will keep investing in becoming more competitive and improving the shopping trip, and I am confident we will serve our customers even better during the important trading period ahead.

“We continue to improve the shopping trip which is attracting more customers, with like-for-like transactions again strong and up 4.1 per cent. Investing in becoming more competitive for customers meant prices fell during the quarter, with deflation of one per cent. It also means we are becoming better food makers and shopkeepers, and we were delighted to win two prestigious industry awards recently.”

Morrisons was named bakery retailer at the Baking Industry Awards and national café chain at the Café Quality Food Awards.

Mr Potts said Halloween trade was the biggest ever with sales growing by 20 per cent. Morrisons new premium food range The Best was also proving popular. The grocer recently bought all the available Cromer crab in the UK for its macaroni cheese with lobster and crab meal which sold out.

Future plans also include rolling out the Nutmeg children’s clothing range at all Morrisons stores by the end of January. Quarterly sales were up by 25 per cent.

Mr Potts said his focus remains improving customers’ shopping experience and providing value for money. He is confident that Morrisons will have a good Christmas trading period.

John Ibbotson, of the retail consultancy Retail Vision, said Morrisons’ return to its roots of low prices, good value and fresh food was helping it fight back against the discounters. But against a backdrop of intense competition, it would have to fight for every penny of profit.