• SYDNEY, AAP – Coles’ has reported a 5.1 per cent drop in third-quarter sales to $8.76 billion, as trading normalised compared with unusual panic buying ahead of lockdowns during the same period last year.

    Supermarket sales declined by 6.1 per cent for the 12 weeks to March 28 to $7.72 billion.

    However, liquor sales were up 2.6 per cent to $759 million, while Coles Express sales jumped 7.4 per cent to $275 million.

    Online sales grew by 49 per cent in the 12-week period.

    The same period last year had seen double-digit sales growth as an impending lockdown due to COVID-19 triggered panic-buying by shoppers for items ranging from pasta to toilet paper.

    Same-store sales for the third quarter last year rose 13.1 per cent.

    The company said consumer behaviour had started to normalise, with customers returning to shopping centres and increased shopping trips as well as improved transaction growth.

    Meanwhile, trading was on the rise in the current quarter, Coles said.

    In the first four weeks of the June quarter, supermarkets sales increased by about four per cent.

    The increase was apparent partly on account of subdued sales in April last year, when social distancing restrictions had kicked in.