Primark owner Associated British Foods says trading over the Christmas period was strong as shoppers returned in-store at a higher level than a year earlier – and as it also saw more visits to its website. The clothing retailer says it is “encouraged” by its click and collect trial, in which it is selling children’s products online for collection in 25 stores in the north of England and Wales.
The retailer says footfall improved in its stores as shoppers returned to its city centre stores as well as buying on high streets and retail parks. Traffic to its UK website grew by 85% on last year following improvements to the site’s functionality and customer experience, and twice as many pages were viewed in an average session. The new website has now been launched in the Republic of Ireland, and will be followed by Germany, Spain and the US in coming months before extending to all of Primark’s markets by the end of this year.
The update comes as Associated British Foods (ABF) says group revenues for the 16 weeks to January 7 2023 came in at £6.7bn. That’s 20% up on the same time last year. Within that, retail sales of £3.1bn at Primark were 18% up on last time, when the omicron variant of Covid-19 deterred shoppers from going in-store. On a like-for-like (LFL) basis, which strips out the effect of store openings and closures, sales were 11% up on last year. Sales broke previous records for the week leading up to Christmas Day – and came close to the record set when stores reopened from lockdown in June 2021.
In the UK, sales were 15% up on the previous year, and Primark says it increased its share of the UK clothing, footwear and accessories market, including online sales, to 7% in the 12 weeks to December 11, from 6.5% a year earlier. Trading grew by 16% in Europe (+8% LFL), and by 4% in the US.
Primark currently sells from 416 stores around the world, occupying a total of 17.7m sq ft – up from 17m a year ago. In the current financial year it aims to open 17 more stores adding a net 1m sq ft of retail space. It has recently signed a lease for its first store in Hungary – which will be in Budapest and will be Primark’s 17th market.