The rapid roll-out of more online food shopping capacity has helped South Africa’s retailer Woolworths report soaring sales over the lockdown period.
The South African government has announced a national lockdown that requires the closure of non-essential businesses between 27 March 2020 and 16 April 2020 and has implemented various regulations and directives which have impacted the way Woolworths does business.
The country is currently on lockdown at level 3.
South Africa began easing restrictions at the beginning of May 2020.
“Woolworths Food continued its positive momentum into the last nine weeks of H2, growing sales by 16.1%, as the easing of regulations allowed Woolworths Food to trade-in categories that were previously restricted,” the retailer said on Friday.
“This top-line result was achieved notwithstanding the constrained environment and the intermittent closure of specific stores for deep cleaning in instances of COVID-19 disruptions.”
The retailer said there was a significant focus on improving its online fulfilment capability, such as click and collect and increased delivery slots, to meet the increased demand through this channel, which saw online food sales growing by 87.8% in H2.
“Notwithstanding this, we recognise that this is not yet at optimal levels and are prioritising our efforts to improve this capability.”
Despite online food shopping gaining traction, Woolworths reported that sales for the year ended 28 June 2020 on a 52-week comparable basis was 0.1% lower.
“The sales performance for H2 of FY20 was significantly impacted by COVID-19 following the temporary closure of the majority of the group’s non-food stores, coupled with the decline in foot traffic and consequent loss of trade,” the retailer said.
“The operating environment is challenging and fluid, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Operations are being dynamically managed in terms of COVID-19 guidelines across Southern Africa and Australasia,” Woolworths added.
“The pandemic remains a part of our daily lives, and continues to disrupt our local and
international supply chains, our store operations, and the availability of products and services to our customers. This is a challenge that the group is continuing to monitor and manage carefully.”