South African grocer Spar Group Ltd. benefited from the end of curbs on the retail sales of alcohol, with trade at its nationwide TOPS liquor stores surging 56% in the 18 weeks through the end of January.
That helped push Spar’s total sales in southern Africa up by 8.2% from the same period a year earlier, the company said Tuesday in a trading update. Group turnover increased by 5.8% to R45.5 billion ($3 billion).
Spar’s shares rose as much as 5.1% after the update, the most since November 2020, while trading volumes surged.
South Africa completely banned alcohol sales for the first five weeks of a lockdown that started in March 2020 to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Over the next two years, trade was restricted to limited hours and banned outright a few more times, hitting the sales of supermarkets in a country where companies such as Spar, Massmart Holdings Ltd., Shoprite Holdings Ltd. and Pick n Pay Stores Ltd. have come to dominate liquor retail and taken market share from independent bottle stores.
Spar said it lost 58 liquor-trading days in the 18 weeks through the end of January 2021, and none in the same period to the end of January this year.
The government allowed retail sales of liquor to return to normal hours at the end of September and finally lifted restrictions on establishments serving alcohol on December 30.
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