Finance Consumer Woolies joins supermarket slump as shoppers return to pre-pandemic habits

Woolies joins supermarket slump as shoppers return to pre-pandemic habits

woolworths antigen testing
Woolworths says it will take its rapid antigen testing program nationwide after success in Sydney. Photo: AAP
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Supermarket giant Woolworths has posted a 0.4 per cent rise in group sales to $16.56 billion for the third quarter, helped by continuing strong trading in the first part of the period.

But food sales in Australia for the 13 weeks to April 4 were down 0.7 per cent to $11.09 billion, as trading normalised compared to a surge in spending ahead of coronavirus lockdowns during the same period in 2020.

Sales at Big W stores rose 6.3 per cent from a year ago, while sales at the Endeavour Drinks and hotels businesses rose 6.3 per cent and 11.5 per cent respectively.

The 2021 figures came after the retailer’s food sales jumped $11.1 billion in the same period in 2020, as the COVID pandemic hit – up 10.3 per cent on comparable sales in 2019.

In the 2020 April quarter, Woolies noted that toilet paper, cleaning goods, rice and pasta were the most popular items.

Rival Coles reported a similar drop on Wednesday, with 2021 third-quarter sales slipping 5.1 per cent to $8.76 billion.

Coles’ supermarket sales declined by 6.1 per cent for the 12 weeks to March 28 to $7.72 billion.

However, liquor sales were up 2.6 per cent to $759 million, while Coles Express sales jumped 7.4 per cent to $275 million.

Coles also said consumer behaviour had started to normalise, with customers returning to shopping centres and increased shopping trips and improved transaction growth.

-with AAP