Only the sales in the Woolworths group’s grocery stores increased in the recent financial year to the end of June after increasing sharply on an annual basis amid the state of restraint.
In the full financial year, sales of groceries and food increased by 8.6%.
Woolworths says in a trade review over that financial year that the extremely difficult trading conditions due to the coronavirus pandemic put significant pressure on its performance.
Its total sales – including all its clothing stores – fell by 2.9%. There was an extra trading week in the previous financial year. On a comparative basis, its sales fell by 1.1%.
Woolworths Food continued its rapid growth in the last nine weeks of the financial year as the restriction regulations were further relaxed and more categories of products could be sold.
In the first six months of 2020, its food sales showed as follows:
- By the end of February, it was 7.5% higher year-on-year;
- Thereafter, it was 17% higher until 22 April; and
- Until June 22, it was 16% higher.
“The increase in sales was achieved despite the difficult environment and specific stores that had to be closed from time to time when cases of the virus were detected,” the trade statement read.
The increase in sales was achieved despite a basket of products that was 6.5% more expensive than a year ago.
Online food sales were nearly 90% higher year-on-year in the second six months of Woolworths’ financial year.
“Nevertheless, we realize our online sales are not yet at optimal levels and we are prioritizing our efforts to improve them,” the trade statement read.
It goes without saying that the last half year of the financial year had a big impact because clothing stores were closed for a long time due to the state of restraint.
In South Africa, sales in its clothing stores fell by 12% in the full financial year.
From the beginning of May certain categories of clothes could be sold and from the middle of May all categories.
This slowed the pace at which sales fell to 12% in the last nine weeks of the financial year compared to the 61% drop in the eight weeks to 22 April.