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Woolworths’ nightmare after Christmas

| Retailer trading results

Retailer blames the exclusion of Boxing Day from the first half figures for its 2017 financial year for part of its lacklustre sales growth figures

Woolworths suffered a sharp slowdown in Christmas sales growth. Excluding a R3.8bn windfall from the sale of David Jones’s Sydney head office, the retail chain expects to report a decline in interim earnings.

Basic earnings for the 26 weeks to December 25 are expected to be boosted by between 30% and 40% from the matching period’s 253.7c by the A$360m sale of David Jones’s head office in August.

But headline earnings, which exclude the property sale, were expected to decline by up to 7.5%, Woolworths said in a trading update on Thursday morning.

Woolworths is scheduled to release its interim results on about February 16.

Overall group sales growth for the 26 weeks to Christmas Day was 6.7% — less than half the matching period’s 17.1%. The previous year’s interim sales figures were boosted by the inclusion of Australian acquisition David Jones. Excluding David Jones, group sales grew 12.3% for the 26 weeks to December 27 2015.

Woolworths blamed the exclusion of Boxing Day from the first half figures for is 2017 financial year for part of its lacklustre sales growth figures.

The group’s clothing and general merchandise sales growth slowed to 3.5% from the matching period’s 11.7%. Excluding new stores, sales grew 1.2%. Net retail space allocated to clothing and general merchandise expanded by 2.9%.

Food sales were up 9.5%, down from the matching period’s 12.1%. Excluding new stores, food sales grew 5.6% and retail space grew by a net 7.9%.

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