CANBERRA, AAP – Coles enjoyed soaring sales during the second half of last year, buoyed in part by customers being forced to stay at home during Christmas.

Releasing its half-year 2020/21 results on Wednesday, the supermarket giant said sales revenue increased by 8.1 per cent to $20.4 billion compared with the previous year.

Supermarket sales were up 7.2 per cent, liquor store sales increased 15.1 per cent and petrol station sales rose 9.9 per cent.

“Whilst COVID-19 will continue to present challenges, it will also present opportunities for change,” chief executive Steven Cain said.

“Coles is well placed to continue delivering on our vision of becoming the most trusted retailer in Australia and grow long-term shareholder value.”

Total online sales grew 48 per cent for the half year, driven by very strong growth in Victoria across pick-up and home delivery.

Alcohol sales were strong throughout the half-year, although they did taper off in the final three months of 2020 as coronavirus restrictions eased and people returned to the pub.

In contrast, fuel sales improved in the final months of 2020 as more people enjoyed their freedom.

Coles declared a fully franked interim dividend of 33 cents per share, a 10 per cent increase compared with a year earlier.

Earnings before interest and taxes rose 12.1 per cent to $1.02 billion.