Woolworths said a switch to eating at home and online shopping powered a 12.3% rise in first-quarter sales compared to the prior corresponding period, a better outcome than the 10.7% rise reported last week by rival Coles.
Woolies reported total group sales figure of $17.9 billion across its supermarket and other businesses for the first three months of financial year 2021.
For the 14 week period ending October 4, Woolworths said its supermarket sales rose 13.4%, with digital supermarket channel usage doubling.
The group’s total Australian food sales grew 12.9% to $12 billion. Total group digital sales jumped 86.7% to $1.5 billion.
Big W sales were up 20.4% over the period despite 22 stores being forced to close in Victoria due to the now lifted lockdown. Big W digital sales grew 175.2% and now represents more than 9% of the department stores total sales.
Comparable sales growth in its liquor business grew 20%, while its New Zealand supermarket operations saw sales rise by a more sedate 4.7%.
As expected given the lockdowns in Victoria for most of the quarter and many of its hotels are in that state), hotel sales were down 33.2% to $313 million.
Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci noted the growing cult-like popularity of its Ooshies promotion which helped push sales up over the quarter.
Despite that the shares eased 0.6% to $38.55.
Mr Banducci said the company is turning its attention to preparing for a COVID-19 safe Christmas retailing period, and is expecting sales in food categories to remain elevated over the period.
“For the rest of the calendar year, we expect elevated sales and costs to continue as customers spend more time at home, continue to embrace e-commerce and we ensure our stores and distribution centres remain COVIDSafe,” Mr Banducci
said in yesterday’s report.
Woolies also announced that it paid $164 million in the quarter to remediate salaried staff for salary payment shortfalls in past years. In total, $281 million has been paid to date.