Insatiable appetites for sausage rolls and steak bakes since the easing of lockdown have been greater than first thought, according to Greggs.

The high street giant has revealed sales are returning at a faster rate than expected, with bosses saying an expected slowdown at Greggs from the reopening of cafes and restaurants last month failed to materialise.

Greggs says sales remain high despite reopening of restaurants and cafes. (Danny Lawson / PA)

In a short update to the London Stock Exchange, the company said: “We had expected to see increased competition as cafes and restaurants were allowed to compete more effectively with our largely take-out offer.

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A Greggs store
Greggs has enjoyed strong sales since reopening (Steve Parsons/PA)

“In recent weeks the impact of pent-up demand for retail has reduced but, nonetheless, like-for-like sales growth in company-managed shops has remained in positive territory ranging between 1% and 3% when measured against the same period in 2019.

“This level of sustained sales recovery is stronger than we had anticipated and, if it were to continue, would have a materially positive impact on the expected financial result for the year.”

The chain first indicated in May that it could return to pre-pandemic profit levels later this year.

But bosses now seem convinced it could happen sooner than first thought.

In the eight weeks to May 8, sales dropped just 3.9%, compared with a 23.3% fall in the 10 weeks to March 13.

Total sales in the 18 weeks to May 8 were £352 million, up from £280 million last year as the pandemic weighed in, but down from £373 million in 2019.

Retail analyst Clive Black of Shore Capital said: “Greggs has bounced back exceptionally well, it should be said, and has showed itself to be very much a loved brand by shoppers.”