Woolworths first quarter sales report for 2017 showed a significant drop in petrol earnings, based on a 13.9 per cent reduction in fuel prices over the past 12 months.
Petrol sales for the quarter were down 11 per cent on 2016 takings, with average fuel sell prices going from 131.5 cpl to 113 cpl.
Petrol sales by the litre were down 1.0 per cent on the 2016 first quarter, a short drop from 1.035 billion litres to 1.025 billion litres.
In terms of dollar value, lower petrol prices drove first quarter takings down, from $1.331 billion in first quarter 2016 to $1.184 billion for the start of this financial year.
Food sales sustained the Australian Food and Petrol category for Woolworths, showing a marginal 0.1 per cent growth from $10.495 billion to $10.505 billion.
During the first quarter period, Woolworths closed one petrol outlet and opened another, keeping the total number of canopies at 530 nationwide.
Overall the supermarket giant grew by 2.2 per cent in the first quarter 2017, prompting praise from group CEO Brad Banducci.
“We made good progress during the quarter on our five key priorities and are seeing far more consistency in our trading performance in Australian food,” he said.
“Customers continue to respond to the improvements we’re making, with Australian food delivering its first positive comparable sales growth since Q2 2015, despite ongoing material price deflation.
Mr Banducci said that while the company was pleased with the progress, there remained “much more to do”.
“Our trading performance over the key Christmas trading period is crucial to the financial performance of the Woolworths Group in FY17,” he said.