Mr Price weathers lockdowns, civil unrest to record 51% increase in sales

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  • Retail income grew by 49% to R8.6 billion
  • Group’s diverse store footprint extended by 211 stores
  • Local clothing retailers showing diverging results as sales volumes slump

Harare – South African clothing retail giant Mr Price has recorded a 51% uptick in sales volumes in the 18 weeks spanning from April to August 2021 when compared to the same period in 2020 despite the term being characterized by intensified lockdown measures in the country and being plagued by business disrupting civil unrest for some part of it.

When compared to the same period in 2019, which was before the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Price’s group sales volumes are seen to be 17% ahead significant of real growth.

Sales over online channels increased by 46% when compared to the same period in 2020 and by 103% when compared to 2019 consequently increasing contribution to total sales by 1.3 percentage points 2.9% against 1.6% in 2020 and indicative of growing uptake of online shopping methods necessitated by the pandemic.

Resultantly, the group recorded growth in retail sales and other income (RSOI) of 49% to R8.6 billion partly propelled by the acquisition and inclusion of Power Fashion and Yuppiechef financial results. (Excluding these acquisitions, RSOI grew 38.6% to R8.0bn.)

These acquisitions added 181 stores to 30 new Mr Price stores, extending the group’s diverse store footprint by 211 stores from its financial year ended 3 April 2021, as a result, the group is said to have gained 250 basis points of market share according to the Retailers’ Liaison Committee (RLC)

This growth came within a period in which South African authorities extended COVID-19 lockdowns from a less restrictive level two and to more restrictive adjusted levels 3 and 4 from 15 June 2021 to 26 July 2021 in order to curb the spread of the more deadly COVID-19 delta variant.

The group was also forced to shut down stores in the KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng provinces between 14 and 21 July as a result of civil unrest which occurred following the arrest of former president, Jacob Zuma which actually resulted in some stores being looted and damaged.

“Significant disruption was also caused to trade and supply chain operations by the civil unrest during the month of July in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng, two of the country’s prominent provinces. Additionally, the group’s primary port of entry, Durban, had its operations disrupted intermittently by the civil unrest and an unprecedented cyber-attack,” the group said.

At one stage 539 stores were closed during the week of civil unrest and 104 stores remained closed and did not trade for the last 3 weeks of the Period, due to either being looted or partially damaged to varying degrees.

On the local front however, clothing retailers have not been as fortunate, facing major drawbacks as a result of lockdowns and immense competition poised by informal boutiques and second-hand clothing retailers.

In the half year ended January 10, 2021 Truworths Limited recorded a 23 percent slump in sales volumes while in the full year ended on the same day Edgars had also recorded a dip by the same margin.

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