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Woolworth Q1 food sales jump almost 13pct

·2-min read

Woolworths food sales jumped almost 13 per cent in the first quarter of this financial year, a result the supermarket giant says bodes well for the Christmas season.

Australian food sales totalled $12 billion, a rise of 12.9 per cent on the same 14 weeks in 2019/20, for in-store, online and other sales categories.

The lion's share, about $10 billion, was driven by its supermarket network, but online sales were also very strong - up by 100 per cent as more people ordered over the internet from home.

In Victoria, where coronavirus restrictions kept people largely confined to their homes, online sales surged by 180 per cent.

"For the rest of the calendar year, we expect elevated sales ... to continue as customers spend more time at home, and continue to embrace eCommerce," chief executive Brad Banducci said on Wednesday.

The Endeavour Drinks business, which includes the BWS and Dan Murphy's shops, had a 21.4 per cent rise in sales to $2.65 billion.

Customers bought drinks more frequently, while the number of items they bought each time remained steady.

Spirits, and in particular gin, was the fastest growing category.

The group's cost of implementing in-store COVID safety measures, such as cleaning, personal protective equipment, COVID marshals and security, totalled $147 million in the quarter.

This excluded discretionary payments - such as employee discounts and incentive or recognition payments - and equated to about one per cent of sales.

But average prices during the quarter increased by 1.2 per cent, albeit less than the rise of 2.4 per cent in the final quarter of the last financial year.

First quarter sales for the entire Woolworths group, which also includes its New Zealand business, 179 Big W stores and Dan Murphy's, jumped by more than 12 per cent to $17.9 billion.

Shares were lower by 0.62 per cent to $38.57 at 1144 AEDT.