Mr Price says factors such as the need for winter merchandise, increased grant payments and debt payment holidays contributed to increased consumer demand in May and June. Picture: SUPPLIED
Mr Price says factors such as the need for winter merchandise, increased grant payments and debt payment holidays contributed to increased consumer demand in May and June. Picture: SUPPLIED

Retail group Mr Price said on Thursday that sales crashed almost 90% in April during the height of SA’s lockdown, but pent-up demand has resulted in double-digit sales growth in May and so far in June.

Online sales have also surged, with the group saying retail sales from the beginning of May to June 20 rose 12%, and pent-up demand for apparel in May shifted to homewares in June.

The group warned this may be temporary, and it is also too soon to tell if a surge in online sales reflects a permanent shift in consumer behaviour.

Various factors over this period have led to unusually high levels of consumer demand, Mr Price said, including the need for winter and children’s merchandise, increased grant payments, debt payment holidays and constrained spending under the stricter lockdown conditions.

The group has opted not to pay a dividend for the year to end-March to save cash, reporting that headline earnings per share declined 10.4% to 1,047.0c.

Profit fell 9.3% to R2.7bn.

“The current and forecast spread of the virus in South Africa remains a concern given its impact on society due to loss of life and the devastating financial impact on businesses and citizens,” the group said.

“It is not possible at this stage to quantify the economic impact on the group, but ongoing operational disruptions and future uncertainty remain significant challenges,” the statement said.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za