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Shoprite notes gloomy Christmas sales

| Retailer trading results

Santa spent more on school essentials than toys during the festive season — a sign of how financially stressed SA's middle-class is.

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.”

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