Wesfarmers bets on strong Xmas


ColesexteriorRetail giant Coles sold almost $7 billion worth of goods in the September quarter and its parent company says all signs are pointing to a strong Christmas sales period.

According to figures released by the supermarket chain’s owner, Wesfarmers, Coles recorded a 4.4 per cent increase in sales during the three month period, compared to the same time last year.

Wesfarmers boss Richard Goyder said the figures were pleasing, given the average price of a basket of goods fell 2.5 per cent during the quarter, mostly due to lower fresh food prices.

Goyder is confident things are improving in the retail sector, which has faced a difficult couple of years due to weak consumer sentiment.

He said the recent rise in house prices, a relatively low unemployment rate and low interest rates should boost consumer confidence and encourage them to spend more over Christmas compared to previous years.

“I think the environment is just better now… When people are feeling financially better off that tends to reflect in spending habits,” he said.

“The ingredients are there for an uptick in retail spending and I think Christmas will be a good indication of that, because that’s when people tend to be a bit more impulsive,” he said.

Wesfarmers also said the roll-out of self check outs, which are now in place at more than 600 of Coles’ 756 supermarkets, had been a hit with customers and now accounted for more than 50 per cent of transactions in some stores.

“Its not uncommon to see stores with half of the transactions going through a self check-out, so in other words customers really like them,” the company’s finance director Terry Bowen said.

Goyder said Coles would roll out more self check-outs, even though they had led to a slight increase in thefts from the supermarket chain.

“The vast majority of customers are very honest, we’ve opened our stores up and we’ll have more self-check-outs…but we’ll put in place some processes that keep a handle on shrink(theft),” he said.

The September quarter was a good one for Wesfarmers retail businesses, with sales from the company’s home improvement business Bunnings up more than 10 per cent during the quarter to $2 billion.

Officeworks recorded a three per cent rise in sales to $373 million while Kmart lifted its sales 4.6 per cent to $970 million.

But Target continued to struggle, with sales down 6.1 per cent from last year to $789 million.




  1. JohnG posted on October 25, 2013

    Dear Terry Self-check-outs are easy to "love" when you only have 1-2 employees working on the regular check-outs. I'm also sure that the increased shrink rates are acceptable when off-set by the larger wage savings you have by making customers do their own work. I'd "love" the self-check-out experience a little more if you offered me a discount for doing the task that used to be part of the supermarket service expectation. In fact I'm sure a DIY check-out discount would be even more popular than your fuel discount offers. Regards A Reluctant DIY Check-out Shopper

  2. Jane posted on October 25, 2013

    To John G, Love it Love it Love it! Well said!. Sick of going to Coles after a long day at work and having no option but to unload a full trolley, scan one by one, re-load bags, have sales screens go on strike because you had to take the bag off the checkout area to fit the next load of items in, have full bags all over the floor as the trolley is still getting unloaded and then lift all the bags back in to the trolley.I think we should get a discount for doing all the work ourselves also. What a pile of rubbish about customers liking the DIY checkouts.Its extremely annoying to rock up with a full trolley, find only 1 or 2 registers in use and have to do all the work yourself. No wonder theft has increased! Still, with a much smaller wages bill, it can be well covered. They are doing all our youngsters out of the part time job incomes that feed back in to the rest of the retail sector.

  3. Jason posted on October 26, 2013

    It wont be long before we have no face to face contact with supermarket staff. That's the way its headed!

  4. Andrew posted on October 26, 2013

    I don't see how self checkouts relates to Christmas sales especially seeing as both major supermarkets have them. I work as a self checkout attendant and also like using them as a customer but if I see a staff member waiting to serve a customer then most likely I will go to the manned checkout. Supermarkets can't force customers to use self checkout but by having less manned registers the customer will go to the available self checkout so they don't have to wait. I know myself, I feel stupid standing in an express queue with only 1 staff member serving when I can go to a self checkout and do it myself straight away. So in the end... Self serve checkouts = Less staff = more people using self checkout = more self serve checkouts! Maybe this is just evolution but in the future we may only be able to serve ourselves. I would be interested to know how much the shrinkage has increased with self checkout.

  5. Linguini posted on June 30, 2018

    5 years on and supermarkets are still greedy with no care of job security for their workers.

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