Coles’ third-quarter sales have slipped 5.1 per cent to $8.76 billion, as trading normalised compared with unusual lockdown-related stocking during the same period in 2020.
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.
The retailer said consumer behaviour had started to normalise, with customers returning to shopping centres and increased shopping trips and improved transaction growth.
For the same period in 2020, Coles reported $8.23 billion had passed through its tills between January 6 and March 29 – up 13.1 per cent on the same period in 2019.
At the time, Coles Group chief executive Steven Cain attributed the leap to “unprecedented demand” triggered by lockdowns and border closures in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
The company said social distancing requirements had delivered a major boost to grocery and household goods sales, as consumers stopped dining out at cafes and restaurants.
However, alcohol sales were also up in 2020, lifting 7.2 per cent from $697 million in the third quarter of 2019 to $740 million the April quarter.
Rival Woolworths, which is yet to report its 2021 sales, reported a similar jump last year. In just 13 weeks (ending April 5, 2020), it notched up $11.1 billion in food sales – a 10.3 per cent growth on comparable sales in 2019.
Woolies noted that toilet paper, cleaning goods, rice and pasta were the most popular items.