Appendix 6 - Time Line of Retail Grocery Trends

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Appendix 6 - Time Line of Retail Grocery Trends

Early 1900s


First Coles store opens in Melbourne


Suburban sprawl leads to ordering of goods and home delivery

Experimentation with different retail formats in food departments


First Woolworths store opens in Sydney

1930s and 1940s

Depression and World War Two austerity stifles retail innovation


Franklins open branch stores in Sydney metropolitan area


Food departments of department stores increasingly convert to self service


Establishment of independent supermarkets across expanding suburbs, stocking a wide range of groceries and cleaning products, including refrigerated goods such as milk, cheese, dairy and ‘deli’ products


First fully self-service grocery store opens in Sydney


766 self-service stores in Australia


Coles and Woolworths trial self-service


1700 self-service stores in Australia by end of year


Fruit and vegetables introduced in supermarkets

Woolworths and Coles acquire small and innovative supermarket chains such as BCC in Brisbane and Flemings in Sydney, convert many of their variety stores to a grocery and variety format, and create the first house brands to undercut leading brands.

Supermarkets buy out their franchise butchers and begin to invest in integrated supply chains via long-term contracts with suppliers. Sophisticated food processing techniques implemented.


Coles opens first purpose-built free-standing supermarket in Victoria


Coles has 8 supermarkets


After a decade of rapid growth Franklins operates 70 supermarkets


Higher levels of inflation increase cost consciousness among consumers

Supermarkets seek to keep prices down by keeping service to a minimum, narrowing aisles to reduce floor space rentals and dimming the lighting to cut electricity bills

Supermarkets build their own meat distribution facilities


Davids open fully computer-controlled warehouse in Sydney


‘No Frills’ house brand introduced at Franklins


Hong Kong company Dairy Farm International Holdings Limited buys Franklins


Discounters Franklins become popular in NSW; Bi-Lo in South Australia; Shoeys in Victoria and Jack the Slasher in Queensland, draw market share from both Woolworths and Coles.

Convenience stores such as 7-Eleven and Food Plus, often on main roads and with longer opening hours, became popular and also draw market share from both Woolworths and Coles despite higher prices and limited range. These stores sell confectionary, soft drink, partly prepared meals, fast food items and often petrol.

Woolworths and Coles purchase discount chains such as Jack the Slasher, Shoeys and Bi-Lo, and renovating their stores. Coles opens big new-look Super K stores. They improve the quality of their fruit and vegetables and invest heavily in technology and systems to improve efficiency, such as barcoders and scanners.

Franklins expands into Queensland, South Australia and Victoria

Davids, the major wholesaler to the independent retailers, begins to merge with other independent wholesalers

The range of items on supermarket shelves continues to expand into areas such as health and beauty products, magazines, and pre-prepared meals.

EFTPOS facilities introduced at checkouts.


Scanning first appears at an independent supermarket in Victoria.


Coles adopts scanning


Increasing sophistication of consumers demanding new flavours, methods of preparation and packaging

Credit cards and retail incentive schemes such as ‘fly buys’ introduced

Fall in employment of casual workers in the retail sector as proportion of national retail workforce


Franklins moves into liquor sales


Coles centralises buying from state to national level


Woolworths Limited floats on stock exchange, adding over 330,000 new shareholders consisting mainly of small investors


Store managers at Coles increasing freed to customise a portion of their offerings to suit local tastes.


Major chains experiment with Internet shopping

Announcement of fuller banking services to be provided at Woolworths

Source:  Most items are sourced from Eric Jones, ‘Coles Myer & Grocery Retailing in Twentieth-Century Australia’, Coles Myer Submission 168 Part 2, and Franklins, Submission 200.

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