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Australia's Woolworths posts over 12% rise in Q1 sales as lockdowns boost demand

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Woolworths Group's first-quarter sales jumped over 12 per cent on Wednesday, as coronavirus-related lockdowns boosted demand for cooking supplies and other household essentials, but the Australian retailer said it expects costs to remain elevated for the rest of the year.

[BENGALURU] Woolworths Group's first-quarter sales jumped over 12 per cent on Wednesday, as coronavirus-related lockdowns boosted demand for cooking supplies and other household essentials, but the Australian retailer said it expects costs to remain elevated for the rest of the year.

Total group sales for the country's biggest supermarket operator came in at A$17.85 billion (S$17.4 billion) for the 14 weeks to Oct 4, up from A$15.90 billion a year earlier.

Sales were driven by increased demand for food supplies and cleaning products from shoppers in the state of Victoria, which has been under a lockdown since July to combat a second wave outbreak..

Restaurants and cafes in Melbourne reopened and limits on social gatherings at homes were eased only in the last week of October.

Woolworths' sales for the quarter were ahead of smaller rival Coles Group, which posted a 10.5 per cent growth in sales last week.

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However, closures in Victoria and restrictions in other states continued to hurt sales at the company's hotels division, with total sales declining by 33.2 per cent to A$313 million.

The company, which has been paying back-store staff after acknowledging widespread underpayment, added that A$164 million was paid during the quarter to remediate staff for salary payment shortfalls.

REUTERS

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