Supermarket industry gap narrows after strong Christmas period

While foot traffic fell approximately 8 per cent between Black Friday to Boxing Day, certain retail categories managed to pull together impressive growth over the period, according to research from analysis firm Citi.

Shoppers continued to look online for their Christmas and holiday spending, with high discounting generally required to entice shoppers into stores.

However, the supermarket sector in particular saw strong growth, with both market leaders Woolworths and Coles delivering solid results and ending the period with neither brand in a leading position.

“In recent years there has been a clear winner and loser over Christmas,” the report reads.

“This is likely to be the first Christmas in five years and the second time over the past 14 years that both Woolworths and Coles delivered [like-for-like] sales growth within 1 point of each other.”

Woolworths is forecasted to deliver 3.4 per cent sales growth, with Citi noting that the retailer saw increased food sales and an improved Big W. Coles, on the other hand, is expected to hit 2.7 per cent growth, and saw stronger than expected food sales, positively surprising most suppliers over the period

Department stores saw a difficult period, according to Citi, with Myer’s attempts to reduce discounting puting it at a disadvantage compared to its contemporaries. David Jones ran a more aggressive promotional program, but didn’t necessarily see strong results, with the still-under-construction Elizabeth Street flagship weighing on sales growth.

Kmart’s 19-quarter run of like-for-like sales growth has likely come to an end, said Citi, while rivals Target and Big W delivered positive like-for-like sales growth in the low single digits.

Finally, while the sales trend across the footwear and apparel industries has been mixed, the athleisure trend remains strong, with footwear group Accent Group a beneficiary. Apparel sales were likely down due to the colder start to the summer season, while fashion footwear is likely to have seen more positive results.

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