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Woolworths’ first-quarter food sales rose 1.8 per cent to $9.87 billion, with the supermarket giant blaming the removal of single-use plastic bags for the relatively modest increase.

Woolies, which used 600 million fewer plastic bags during the quarter, says comparable sales growth slowed by showed improved momentum in September and into October.

It also highlighted the impact of rival Coles’ successful Little Shop promotion, which lured shoppers with kid-friendly miniatures.

‘Australian Food had a challenging start to the quarter with sales impacted by our customers’ and team’s adjustment to the removal of single-use plastic bags as well as the impact of a competitor continuity program and the change in timing of Earn and Learn,’ the company said in a release.

Total sales for the three months to September 30 were up 1.9 per cent to $14.85 billion, with Endeavour Drinks’ sales – including BWS and Dan Murphy’s – up three per cent to $2.1 billion, and Big W sales rose 1.3 per cent to $902 million.

The group’s discontinued fuel operations lifted sales 8.2 per cent to $1.3 billion on higher petrol prices.

Woolworths Group chief executive Brad Banducci said all businesses were now focused on Christmas trade.