Woolworths says at-home consumption boom starting to unwind

The big shift to at-home consumption that has been a hallmark of the pandemic is starting to unwind for supermarkets in NSW as the economy opens up, with Woolworths outlining that sales in the state this month have been slowing in its Australian Food division.

Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said the main categories which are experiencing the slowdown are grocery items for the evening meal in households.

“In Sydney, people are starting to go out for dinner,” Mr Banducci said.

He emphasised that while there had been a slowing in October in supermarket sales, it was more of a tapering from elevated levels.

“It’s slowing off very high numbers,” he said.

Mr Banducci said the group’s Big W general merchandise stores have benefited from the reopening as more foot traffic in NSW stores brought an improvement in sales after a rough three months to October 3 when Big W sales slumped 17.5 per cent to $920 million because of store closures, compared with a year earlier.

Woolworths operates about 1000 full-line supermarkets and announced on Wednesday that sales in its Australian Food business, which encompasses the supermarkets business and smaller Metro stores, were up 3.9 per cent to $12.3 billion for the quarter.

On a two-year average comparison, sales were up 8.7 per cent. Like-for-like sales were up 2.7 per cent, below market expectations which averaged 3.7 per cent. Woolworths shares were down 3 per cent to $39.24 in early trade on the ASX.

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