Wesfarmers has released its third quarter sales figures ending March 2009, on the retail side of things Coles and Target performed strongly increasing sales over the period but Kmart sales continued to be flat.

Coles total food and liquor sales rose 7.6 per cent compared to the same period last year, up to $5.3 billion (Easter adjusted up 8.3 per cent). Ian McLeod, managing director at Coles, commented that the pre-Christmas momentum was maintained over the period and Easter was steady with well managed seasonal product sell through.

McLeod also discussed the effects of the economic downturn on the business, “The tough economic conditions continue to adversely affect consumer confidence, and consumers are looking to save money,” he said.

He also discussed how customers are eating out less and eating at home more and how this provides an opportunity to the retailer.

“Coles will focus on providing customer value with our competitive fresh and house-brand offer as well as better promotional programs.”

Target was another strong performer over the period compared to last year with sales up 6.1 per cent despite the volatile and inconsistent market.

According to the report Target management highlighted that customer behaviour has changed and is now more price orientated and value conscious.

But despite the tough economic outlook the company witnessed increased sales, spurred on by the Government stimulus package.

Kmart didn’t do as well as its counterparts on the other hand, only seeing a 0.1 per cent increase in sales from the previous year.

Although there was still an increase, Guy Russo chief executive at Kmart, outlined that the ‘company’s performance was poor’, only recording a 0.1 per cent growth despite Government stimulus packages and the Easter trading.

Russo outlined that the company was expecting sales to remain soft in the future and the company’s immediate focus is on getting the basics right.