After a huge surge, Woolworths now sells well over R2 million in food online, every day

Business Insider SA

Woolworths reusable bag.
  • Woolworths on Thursday reported a 159% spike in online food sales in the half year up to end December.
  • That saw it move well over R2 million worth of food, every day on average, over 26 weeks.
  • Thanks to "resilient" sales overall, Woolworths Food is growingly rapidly for its parent group – especially in comparison to a fashion and home business that shrunk.
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On average, Woolworths Food delivered well over R2 million in orders on every day of the second half of 2020, results published on Thursday show.

Like other major retailers, Woolworths rapidly scaled up on deliveries amid the pandemic – after a period during which some argued that touch-and-feel is too important an aspect of food shopping for online alternatives to flourish.

But as movement restrictions and fear of the coronavirus persisted, its online food-division sales surged by 158.5%, the group said in its unaudited interim results.

In total, turnover for Woolworths Food grew by slightly over 12%, to R18.7 billion in the half-year to the end of December.

Of that total, Woolworths said, 2.2% of sales were online. That equates to R2.25 million worth of food and associated items delivered every day, on average, for the six months.

Woolworths told shareholders its food sales were "resilient", and credited "innovation, convenience and the focused price investment strategy" for stealing business from the competition.

On a comparable-stores basis, Woolworths food sales were up 9.4% relative to the year before. By contrast, sales in the chain's fashion, beauty and home division dropped by more than 11%. That now makes the food division nearly three times the size of clothing and homeware.

The margin on food remains lower than on fashion, though. That saw the clothing side contribute around 20% of the group’s gross profit, while the food side was responsible for just about 32%. (The rest comes from David Jones and Country Road.)

The Woolworths group as a whole reported a R2.8 billion profit after tax for the 26-week period, up 75.7% compared to the same period in 2019.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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