South African department stores chain Woolworths Holdings flagged a small fall in annual sales after its non-food stores were shut in the second-half of its financial year due to COVID-19 lockdowns.


RETAIL sales continued to struggle in August as lockdown regulations went past 200 days this week, but continued to ease from a total shutdown in April.

On Wednesday, Statistics South Africa reported that measured in real terms, which takes inflation into account,  retail trade sales decreased by 4,2% in August 2020 compared to August last year.

Retail sales have struggled even as some categories remained open through as they were deemed essential. 

Stats SA reported that retailers in textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods fell by 10.2%.

Retailers in food, beverages and tobacco in specialised stores experienced a 5% decline while general dealers were down 1.5%.

All other retailers had sales fall by 32.3%. 

The statistics agency also reported that seasonally adjusted retail trade sales increased by 4.0% in August 2020 compared with July 2020.

This followed monthly increases of 0.6% in July 2020 and 5.1% in June 2020. Seasonally adjusted sales were up 16.7% in the three months ending in August, compared to the preceding quarter.

Compared to the corresponding quarter form a year ago, Retail trade sales decreased by 6.7%.

The largest negative contributor to this decrease was all ‘other’ retailers which fell by 38.8%. 

Retail are expected to stagnate for the remainder of 2020 as a number of value chains, such as glass and other packaging, struggle with raw material shortages.

The  last quarter of the year is expected to boost sales due to eased restrictions, but are likely to remain subdued as household struggled with high debt and disposable income decimated by the lockdown. 



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