Woolworths (South Africa) has revealed that Australia's closed international borders have driven "inward-focused consumption," boosting retail spend in its brands David Jones and Country Road Group. 

In a trading update for the 52 weeks ended 27 June 2021, Woolworths revealed that both brands experienced an increase in sales during the period, despite extended lockdowns and subdued footfall in CBD and airport locations. 

David Jones sales over the 52-week period increased by 2.3% and by 0.9% in comparable stores, with second half sales up by 17.1%.

DJs' online sales increased by 24.4% and contributed 17.3% to total sales for the current year.

"In line with our stated intention of exiting unproductive space, trading space was further reduced by 6.3%," Woolworths said in a statement. 

"Sales in our Elizabeth Street flagship store grew by 16.6% during the current year," the business said. 

Meanwhile, Country Road Group also saw a strong lift in sales during the period, seeing sales growth of 13.4% over the current year and by 15.3% in comparable stores, with second half sales up by 39.5%. 

Online sales increased by 30.7% and contributed 29.7% to total sales, while trading space was reduced by 2.8% for the current year.

"This result was underpinned by the robust performance of the Country Road brand and through refreshed product offerings across all brands," Woolworths commented on the CRG results. 

Currently, Woolworths South Africa is facing the impact of civil unrest in the country. 

"WHL echoes the sadness and deep concern expressed by many over the civil unrest in the province of KwaZulu Natal (KZN) and parts of Gauteng, which escalated into widespread looting and destruction of property in the affected areas," the business commented. 

"This has had a significant impact on our operations in these areas, particularly in KZN, as well as on our employees, customers and the broader community.

"We are grateful that none of our employees in these affected areas suffered any injury.

"All of our stores in KZN as well as a number of stores in Gauteng last week had to temporarily close, prioritising the safety of our employees and our customers.

"Our online delivery services and certain suppliers in those areas are also significantly affected given significant damage to their assets.

"Eleven Woolworths stores have been looted and severely damaged with nine of the eleven stores in KZN and two in Gauteng.

"Although looters gained entry to the Woolworths Maxmead Distribution Centre (DC) in KZN the infrastructure was not severely damaged and has been secured, together with our other DCs.

"Operations have resumed and we have prioritised the provision of food into KZN," Woolworths said in a statement. 

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