Primark Shoppers Continue to Hit the Stores Despite Omicron
(Bloomberg) -- British shoppers are still heading to main streets and malls to hunt for Christmas presents at Primark stores, despite the emergence of the new omicron variant and enhanced rules on wearing masks.
Associated British Foods Plc, owner of the budget clothing chain Primark, said the retailer had not experienced any impact on footfall to its stores with sales and margin growth at the start of the fiscal year is ahead of expectations.
The retailer’s revenue should be significantly better than in the year-earlier period, the company said Friday.
“People are shopping -- there’s no doubt about that,” said John Bason, finance director at AB Foods, which also owns a host of other businesess including sugar, agriculture and grocery divisions. “If anything, I think people are shopping earlier for Christmas now to make sure they have all their presents.”
AB Foods shares rose as much as 0.6%.
Bason said more shoppers were wearing masks again following British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to reinstate face coverings in most indoor spaces to try and curb the spread of the highly-transmissable omicron strain.
“What we don’t want is for retail to be closed again. This is a profitable time of year seasonally for ABF particularly for Primark,” said Bason. “So far I think the measures that have been taken by the U.K. government to me seem proportionate as we get to understand more about the omicron variant. But no one wants to see any businesses close.”
Across Europe as a whole, Primark’s sales are holding up well, with only five stores in Austria currently closed due to pandemic restrictions, said Bason. Similarly in the U.S. where it has begun expanding its store base further, sales are above pre-Covid levels.
The company said overall its businesses are experiencing problems from port congestion and a trucker shortage, and it’s been raising prices to offset higher energy and commodities costs. However, it has no plans to increase prices at Primark.
Rock-bottom prices are one of the key reasons Primark, which has no online arm, was able to rebound after months of lockdown as customers flocked to stores when they reopened.
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