27 January 2021
The Weekly
South Africa

Woolworths reported that its food division continues to be a star performer, growing sales by a remarkable 12% for the last six weeks of its half-year to December 27, 2020. While food sales boomed on the back of more people staying home and eating in due to Covid-19, the pandemic continued to impact sales in the group’s fashion, beauty and home division (FBH), as well as its David Jones business in Australia. Food business remained resilient throughout the six-month/26-week period, with sales growing 10.9%. Comparable store sales grew 9.4%, while it still managed to grow new store space by 0.4%. While Covid-19 continues to affect in-stores sales, the pandemic has boosted online sales for major retailers, with the Woolworths food division reporting 158.5% growth in online sales for the six-month period.

Online food sales now contributing 2.2% to overall sales. The group has expanded its online and click-and-collect offering in the face of the pandemic-induced demand for such services over the past year. It began piloting its new Woolies Dash on-demand or same-day grocery delivery service in select locations just before Christmas. Its FBH division saw sales declining 11.2% for the six-month period (comparable store sales down 11%, while sales atDavid Jones declined 8.8% largely driven by a lockdown in the state of Victoria in Australia). Overall group sales for the half-year increased by 5.3%, compared with the same period in 2019. Nevertheless, in constant currency terms sales declined by 0.5%. The group expects its half-year headline earnings per share (Heps) to increase by 50% to 60%.