(Reuters) – Australian supermarket chain Coles Group on Thursday reported a 1.6% rise in first-quarter sales, as consumers stocked up on household essentials during fresh lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 Delta variant.
Both Coles and bigger rival Woolworths Group have benefited from on-and-off lockdowns over the year sending people into a buying frenzy, with big cities such as Melbourne forced into some of the world’s longest COVID-19 curbs.
“As a result of the lockdowns, there was a return to local shopping at the expense of shopping centres, as well as increased demand for ecommerce,” Coles said in a statement.
The over 100-year-old grocery chain reported total sales of A$9.76 billion ($7.33 billion) in the quarter, up from A$9.61 billion last year and beating a UBS estimate of A$9.65 billion.
Woolworths had pointed to sales starting to slow down in October on easing restrictions, but Coles said comparable sales for its supermarket business in the early stages of the second quarter were broadly in-line with the prior quarter.
Coles’ supermarket business sales, which accounts for most of the group’s earnings, rose 1.8% from a year earlier to A$8.62 billion.
($1 = 1.3307 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Harish Sridharan and Tejaswi Marthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)