Food, fuel, booze drive Woolworths' $15.7b in sales

WOOLWORTHS has announced an overall 6.1% increase in first quarter sales of $15.7 billion - a result described by its CEO as a 'pleasing start' to the new financial year.

Grant O'Brien said the growth was underpinned in the food and liquor business which he said was attributed to Woolworths' reputation as "Australia's lowest priced full range supermarket'.

"Our customers continue to benefit from lower average prices as  reflected by deflation of 4.3% for the quarter (when the effects of promotions and volumes are included) driven by campaigns such as 'More Savings Every Day' and Fresh deflation.''

Woolworths said retail trading conditions remained subdued with ongoing consumer caution reflecting cost of living pressures, higher unemployment and uncertainty prior to the federal election,'' Mr O'Brien said.

"Australian Food and Liquor delivered sales growth of 4.5% with increased market share, customer numbers, basket size and items sold.

"Our increased capability in using our data to deliver insights and tailor the shopping experience for customers also continues to enhance growth.

"Petrol sales for the quarter increased 12.6% with volumes increasing by 3.5%.

" Forecourt work  to improve the customer experience, our ongoing focus on targeted fuel promotions and an
improved merchandise offer is driving strong growth in customer numbers.

"BIG W sales for the quarter decreased 3.6% due to the timing difference in the annual Toy Sale relative to the reporting date and ongoing price deflation, particularly in home entertainment.

"Hotels sales for the quarter increased 6.3%, driven by the acquisition of hotels during the prior year as well as changes to the Victorian gaming regulations which were cycled during the quarter.

"Home Improvement sales increased 28.2% for the quarter with our Masters store roll out remaining on track.

With a good start to the spring season, we remain confident that we are building a sustainable future for Masters to become a long term,'' Mr O'Brien said.

Online sales increased by 37% with Woolworths saying it is on track to record $1 billion in sales.

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