Supermarket giant Woolworths has lifted third-quarter grocery sales by 4.2 per cent, reaping the benefits of lower deflation and more favourable weather conditions.
Comparable grocery sales for the 13 weeks to March 31 rose 4.2 per cent to $10.0 billion after adjusting for the timing of Easter, and total group sales from continuing operations lifted 5.1 per cent to $14.90 billion.
The grocery sales growth was an improvement on the first half’s 2.3 per cent, while major rival Coles this week reported 2.2 per cent comparable supermarket sales growth for the third quarter.
Easter-adjusted comparable sales at Woolworths’ Endeavour Drinks segment increased by 5.9 per cent for the quarter with positive comparable growth from BWS and Dan Murphy’s assisted by the timing of New Year’s Eve and weather.
Group chief executive Brad Banducci said the grocery sales growth was a particular highlight after a challenging first half.
“While we had positive transaction and item growth, sales also benefited from lower deflation than recent periods and settled weather,” Mr Banducci said.
He said customer scores remained high but were impacted by flood and drought effects on fruit and vegetables prices, quality and availability.
Big W’s Easter-adjusted comparable sales lifted by 7.4 per cent, driven by everyday, leisure and homeware sales, but the department store is still expected to make a full-year earnings loss of up to $100 million.
Woolworths will close about 30 underperforming Big W stores and two distribution centres over the next three years after increasing numbers of shoppers took their business online.
The company is expected to book a $370 million hit related to the closures in its full-year results.