Woolworths food sales in South Africa remain resilient amid Covid-19

Woolworths Image: JAMES OATWAY

Retailer Woolworths said on Wednesday Covid-19 has had a varying effect on its businesses, with food sales in South Africa remaining resilient, even as sales of fashion and homeware slumped.

Sales fell 17% in the eight weeks to April 26, when adjusting for an extra trading week in the prior financial year, with the group reporting a spike in demand for food ahead of lockdowns taking effect.The group said it has experienced reduced footfall, but increased basket size as consumers adapt to the lockdown.

Woolworths’ foods business has been resilient throughout this period, supported by strong relationships across the supply chain, the group said. Sales grew 17.4% in the eight weeks to end-April.

Sales in Woolworths fashion, beauty and home fell 61.4% over this period, however, with the group saying the resumption of online sales from the start of May has helped to improve sales.

“We expect the challenging and fluid operating environment brought about by the pandemic, to continue for the foreseeable future,” Woolworths said.

“While the business is well prepared to take full advantage of any improvement in trading conditions as government restrictions continue to ease, these circumstances also present opportunity to take clear and decisive actions to improve the effectiveness of our business model,” the group said.

By Karl Gernetsky

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