By Robert Laing for Business Live
Shoprite’s share price fell as much as 5.7% to R175.32 after it warned shareholders its interim results would show flat sales.
Joining the queue of JSE-listed retailers reporting disappointing Christmas sales, Shoprite said its total group sales declined 0.3% in the December quarter, the second of its financial year.
The drop in sales in December quarter followed just 0.42% growth in the September quarter, which Shoprite blamed on teething glitches in a new Gauteng distribution centre and strikes.
Shoprite is scheduled to release its interim results on February 26.
“Liquor stores remain a standout performer with 20.09% sales growth for the period,” CEO Pieter Engelbrecht said in Tuesday’s operating update.
“The group’s core business, Supermarkets RSA, achieved 2.58% sales growth for the period. Persistently low internal food inflation in SA of only 0.2% for the period marks 18 months of near stagnant prices of basic foods in which the group has a larger market share,” Engelbrecht said.
“The core Shoprite middle income consumer base remains under pressure. This was evidenced in Christmas sales in categories such as back-to-school essentials, which outperformed traditional discretionary purchases such as toys for the first time.”
As the festive season has kicked off in earnest and consumers spend more, FNB on Monday warned that approximately 56 percent of middle income consumers in South Africa spend all their monthly income in five days or less after receiving it.
This is according to data from FNB’s Retail segment, which categorises middle income consumers as those who earn a gross monthly income of between R7 000 up to R60 000.
Raj Makanjee, chief executive of FNB Retail, said that for many consumers it was not only a matter of living from one salary payment to another, the reality is that their monthly salary just does not last for 30 days.
Makanjee encouraged consumers to exercise financial discipline, saying that financial discipline was not dependent on having greater income but requires deliberate steps.
“These consumers tend to struggle with money management, with the shortfall leading to sacrifices in important areas such as having back up or emergency saving that can be used to pay for unforeseen expenses. High spending and limited savings cause consumers to rely on credit to get through the month, making them more vulnerable to be caught in a debt trap,” Makanjee said.
Christoph Nieuwoudt, chief executive of FNB Consumer, said more than half of consumers miss at least one debit order over a 12-month period, indicating the pressure consumers are under.
“For almost 40 percent of such customers, debt repayments make up more than half of their take-home-pay, which we consider to be very high. The main driver of this is large numbers of microlender loans and store cards that consumers take up. The ideal scenario for a consumer is to have one provider who gives them a transactional account and the right type of credit when needed,” Nieuwoudt said.
The bank said said it had also seen that 30 percent of middle income consumers who are saving, save for emergencies and at least one other longer-term goal.