Primark to spell out impact of lockdowns on pre-festive trading

Low-cost fashion chain Primark will this week lay bare the impact that various lockdowns and restrictions have had on trading.

By Scott Reid
Monday, 30th November 2020, 7:00 am
People queue outside the vast Primark store on Princes Street in Edinburgh, following its reopening during the summer. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
People queue outside the vast Primark store on Princes Street in Edinburgh, following its reopening during the summer. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

In September, the firm, which uses its website simply as a shop window, said its largest stores in major shopping destinations had been hit by a “significant decline” in footfall amid lower numbers of tourists and commuters.

On the flip side, sales at the chain’s out-of-town stores in retail parks were higher than a year ago, after they reopened following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The retailer, which is owned by conglomerate Associated British Foods (ABF), is due to update investors on more recent trading later this week.

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Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Sales at Primark have swung like a yo-yo this year but ultimately its fashionable, low-cost model kept customers queuing round the block when shops have re-opened.

“With no online presence to help offset store closures, ABF is likely to be burning through cash with the second wave of lockdowns predicted to cost £375 million.

“The pattern though is likely to continue of pent up demand, making up some losses with Primark continuing to showcase its styles through its website and social media.

“ABF’s food business has also been turned on its head during the pandemic, as consumers switched from dining out to eating in. While demand for food service business fell, home cooking product sales soared, and this trend is likely to have continued. So resilience is still very much the name of the game at Associated British Foods in the face of the pandemic.”

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