Victorians the big spenders as Coles sales soar

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Heightened levels of spending in the locked-down state of Victoria has kept sales at supermarket giant Coles elevated for the first quarter of the new financial year.

In trading update on Wednesday morning, the retailer told investors its sales across the company for the three months to the end of September were up 10.4 per cent on a comparable level, one of Coles' highest-ever quarterly results.

Sales across the company for the three months to the end of September were up 10.4 per cent on a comparable level, one of Coles’ highest-ever quarterly results.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

Supermarket sales rose 9.7 per cent for the quarter to $8.46 billion, a result the company said was primarily driven by the state of Victoria and to a lesser extent New South Wales. Excluding Victoria, comparable sales growth was 7.7 per cent.

Liquor sales grew 17.8 per cent for the quarter, and the company's petrol station-situated express stores saw sales jump 10.2 per cent.

Coles and its rival Woolworths have both seen skyrocketing sales figures over the past eight months thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, which fuelled waves of frenzied panic buying early in the year as customers panicked over food supply.

The virus also prompted a rush in online orders at supermarkets, which has continued into the new financial year. Online sales across Coles' supermarkets rose 57 per cent for the quarter. Within Victoria alone, online sales doubled as the state again was the primary growth driver.

A total of $65 million in COVID-related costs were flagged by Coles for the quarter, though the supermarket noted this was lower than the $170 million incurred by the retailer earlier in the year.

Coles' chief executive Steven Cain said the company was continuing to build on its digital and online offerings despite "significant" COVID restrictions in Victoria.

"As we enter a new COVID normal, Coles will continue to prioritise the health and safety of our customers and team members throughout our store network and supply chain," he said.

"I would like to thank our team, our suppliers, our community partners, the state and federal governments, and of course our customers for helping us to navigate our collective way through the first and second waves of COVID."

"We have been proud to serve as an essential needs business during this, the greatest test of our lifetime, and look forward to proudly serving and contributing as Australia begins its recovery and growth phase."

For the first four weeks of the second quarter, sales in supermarkets continued to be elevated, up 6.4 per cent across the board or 5.4 per cent excluding Victoria. Online also grew 45 per cent through October.

More to come

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