Australian retailers have recorded online sales surges as COVID-19 changes the way people shop.
Australian retailers have recorded online sales surges as COVID-19 changes the way people shop.

How virus has changed shopping habits

The profit-reporting season has well and truly confirmed Australian shoppers are buying online more than ever amid the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the importance of a strong e-commerce strategy.

Booking a lift in full-year profits last week, Coles said online services such as click and collect almost doubled in capacity.

Rival Woolworths this week said online sales surged 41.8 per cent despite an annual profit plunge after higher supermarket sales failed to counter financial pain from its pubs being closed.

Unsurprisingly, Woolworths said shoppers frequented the supermarket less during the lowdown but bought more.

Coles also benefited greatly from shelf-stripping panic buying.

Supermarkets are seeing a surge in click-and-collect demand as shoppers try to stay socially distant. Picture: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images
Supermarkets are seeing a surge in click-and-collect demand as shoppers try to stay socially distant. Picture: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

Then there was Bunnings owner Wesfarmers, which posted an 8.2 per cent full-year profit rise after enjoying a 60 per cent jump in online sales, with the recent acquisition of digital department store Catch proving a smart move.

The hardware chain and its other profit driver Officeworks also experienced higher traditional retail sales as customers spent more time working, learning and doing projects at home.

Coca-Cola Amatil was hit hard by business closures and limited trading during the coronavirus pandemic so said it planned to increase its presence in e-commerce and online food delivery platforms.

As consumers responded to the restrictions, they stockpiled large take-home soft drinks packs and grabbed fewer cold drinks from front-of-store fridges, while drinkers forced to stay at home bought more spirits.

At the smaller end of the corporate spectrum, the gourmet food and beverage company newly renamed after South Australian foodie royalty Maggie Beer, who is a board director, reported a surge in online sales as more people dined at home, with their meals inspired by her daily streamed cooking classes.

The company booked a full-year loss but its shares inched higher, suggesting the market applauded its growth plans - launching a new website in January that will offer "an enhanced shopping experience" and better benefits for its Foodclub members, and holding talks to access new e-commerce markets through partnerships.

Analysts generally say such companies will continue to enjoy stronger sales both in-store and online as the ongoing pandemic continues to drive stay-at-home activities and consumption.

Originally published as How virus has changed shopping habits



GALLERY: Bundy kids celebrate Book Week

Premium Content GALLERY: Bundy kids celebrate Book Week

From the Very Hungry Caterpillar to Harry Potter, kids let their imaginations run...

No new Qld cases as Europe wave soars

Premium Content No new Qld cases as Europe wave soars

Qld records no new COVID cases as Europe’s second wave worsens

Labor accused of giving voters’ private details to unions

Premium Content Labor accused of giving voters’ private details to unions

Personal details of a number of people has allegedly been shared