SPAR alcohol sales jump 56% after South Africa lifts Covid ban

South African grocer Spar Group Ltd. benefited from the end of restrictions on liquor retail sales, with trade at its nationwide TOPS liquor stores jumping 56% in the 18 weeks to the end of January.

This helped push Spar’s total sales in Southern Africa up 8.2% from the same period a year earlier, the company said in a business update on Tuesday. The group’s turnover increased by 5.8% to reach 45.5 billion rand ($3 billion).

Shares of Spar rose 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 began in March 2020 to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Over the next two years, trading was restricted to limited hours and banned outright on a few occasions, affecting supermarket sales in a country where companies such as Spar, Massmart Holdings Ltd., Shoprite Holdings Ltd. and Pick n Pay Stores Ltd. came to dominate liquor retail and take market share from independent bottle shops.

Spar said it lost 58 days of liquor business in the 18 weeks to the end of January 2021, and none in the same period to the end of January this year.

The government allowed alcohol retail sales 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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