Massmart: Q4 benefited from lifting of restrictions

Date : 25 January 2021

Jon Wright

Head of Insight - RA EMEA

South Africa-based, Walmart-owned Massmart has published a sales update for its 2020 financial year, noting trading its fourth quarter improved as ‘many of the previously imposed Covid-19 related trading restrictions [were] lifted, which allowed trading to resume in most categories. However, the continued restrictions on the sale of liquor had a strong impact on its overall performance.

Sales fell 4.1% in fourth quarter…

Massmart reported sales of ZAR25.6 bn (US$1.7 bn) in the fourth quarter, a fall of 4.1% on the previous year’s figure, while comparable sales fell by 3.6%. The retailer said the contraction was a slight improvement on the trajectory seen in the rest of H2.

…An improvement on the FY performance

In its full year, Massmart said sales fell 7.7% to ZAR86.5 bn (US$5.8 bn), with comparable sales down by 7.5%. In its home market, Massmart said total sales fell by 7.9%, while comparable sales decreased by 7.6%. Outside of South Africa, total sales fell by 5.4%, while comparable sales decreased by 6.6%. Massmart estimated the value of the sales it lost due to COVID-19 restrictions at around ZAR5.7 bn (US$382.8m).

Foot traffic continued to suffer in Q4

Massmart saw a ‘general reduction in foot traffic, particularly in regional shopping malls, impacting sales in many merchandise categories’. It called out how this had led to softer sales over the Black Friday trading period, although some of this softness had been mitigated by extending the promotional event for the whole of November. The retailer said footfall and sales remained muted in December, although it saw a better performance with its home improvement categories.