Party takes a sober turn
Money Magazine Australia|April 2021
It was great fun for the supermarkets while it lasted, but the pandemic has changed the way we shop
JAMES CARLISLE

After the party, the hangover. But it was Woolies, rather than Coles, that remembered to drink a glass of water before bedtime. While the recent interim results showed that like-for-like sales growth remains elevated, for Woolworths it slowed from 11.5% in the first quarter to 7.1% in the second and from 9.7% to 5% for Coles.

As the chart shows, both companies now lag overall food industry sales growth of 13.9% and 10.8%. Yet it is Woolies outperforming Coles on key industry metrics.

What’s going on? The pandemic has brought about a shift in how people shop, with many preferring local stores over major shopping centres.

The relatively strong performance from Coles Express, which saw like-for-like sales growth of 9.9% in the half, made the point. Sales growth in this division, which focuses on convenience locations like service stations, was almost twice that of the overall group.

The full-year results from Metcash, owner of the IGA chain of smaller and more locally based supermarkets, are likely to emphasise it. The pandemic has made local shopping more popular.

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