Covid-19: Primark reveals 75% drop in sales due to lockdown

Primark saw sales fall by 75% during the period from 1 March to 20 June, with the retailer hit especially hard by the Covid-19 lockdown due to not having an online business to turn to.

All of Primark’s 375 stores closed in a 12-day period to 22 March, before non-essential stores were forced to close in the UK on 23 March.

Last month Primark revealed it had lost £650 million for every month stores were shuttered, and has been forced to significantly reduce costs over this period to help it survive. In a trading uptake published today, its owner Associated British Foods (ABF) revealed this included reducing operating expenses by 50% and limiting cash flow to £100 million per month.

The clothing retailer has now reopened most of its store estate across the world, following the easing of lockdown restrictions by governments, and only eight remain. This includes reopening of 152 out of 153 of its stores in England on 15 June.

Overall, trading so far in reopened Primark stores has been “reassuring and encouraging” according to ABF, with most regional stores, especially in retail parks, performing well. However, it added that “our stores in the centre of big cities are suffering from the current absence of tourism and much lower commuter footfall”.

Sales in the week ended 20 June, with over 90% of its selling space reopened, was £133 million, and “trading in England and Ireland were ahead of the same week last year”.

Demand has been found to be strong for children’s, leisure and night wear in reopened stores, as well as for summer products such as shorts and t-shirts, but weak for formal menswear and travel-related accessories.

ABF revealed that a range of health and safety measures had been introduced to ensure Primark stores are safe for customers and staff. These include social distancing protocols, hand sanitiser stations, perspex screens at tills and additional cleaning of high frequency touch points.