Primark sets new sales records after post-lockdown demand surge

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Several new sales records were set in Primark stores following the easing of lockdown restrictions, the owner of the high street retailer said.

Associated British Foods (ABF) revealed that sales for the retailer hit £1.6 billion for the 16 weeks to June 19, “reflecting an increase in both confidence and willingness to spend by our customers”.

The discount fashion business saw like-for-like sales rise by 3% against pre-pandemic levels from the same quarter two years ago.

Primark started the quarter with only one in five stores trading due to pandemic restrictions, with all of its stores now reopened.

The group said it was particularly buoyed by “pent-up demand in the early weeks after reopening” and is expecting trading to steady now restrictions have been significantly eased.

Coronavirus – Mon Apr 12, 2021
Shoppers stand in line outside Primark, Birmingham, as lockdown restrictions eased in England in April (Jacob King/PA)

“This reopening has also seen a resurgence in demand for fashion across womenswear and menswear, as customers start to step out of lockdown leisurewear.”

ABF bosses said that the firm now expects Primark’s profit for the full year, before the repayment of furlough funds, to be “broadly in line” with last year’s figures.

John Bason, finance director at ABF, told the PA news agency that shoppers were buying more items when they were finally able to return to shops following the latest national lockdown.

He said: “People were filling up their shopping bags so we saw bigger average shops per customer despite those restrictions on capacity.

“I think we’ve seen quite a marked change in what we have been selling as well.”

The company said shoppers have snapped up blazers and licensed clothing, although smart clothing and high heels have seen a slump in sales.

ABF added that sales in its grocery business, which includes brands such as Twinings and Ryvita, dipped by 3% in the past quarter.

Mr Bason added that the company is “keeping an eye” on commodity price inflation, which has risen significantly in recent months.

Shares in ABF were 5% higher at 2,327p after early trading.

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