Walmart-owned South African retailer Massmart is struggling to overcome ongoing restrictions and lockdowns related to the continuing spread of COVID-19 across the region, according to a Tuesday (Aug. 2) press release.
Walmart will announce its full first-half results later this month, according to a trading update Tuesday.
Massmart CEO Mitchell Slape, who was charged with turning around the Johannesburg-based household goods specialist in 2019, has been at the helm during the pandemic, as well as supply chain snags and a week of South African riots that left several people dead last year, Bloomberg reported.
Those factors have conspired to limit consumers’ appetite for shopping at brick-and-mortar locations or leaving their homes at all when it’s not absolutely necessary, according to the report. Add to that higher interest rates, with the central bank trying to counter the 13-year high from June, as well as nationwide cuts in power, and the economy across the region has stalled out.
“The consumer has not had anything like a decent wage increase, bond costs have gone up, food has gone up and the petrol price is 50% higher than what it was a year ago,” Syd Vianello, an independent analyst, told Bloomberg. “With Massmart’s product mix, the higher margin discretionary spend items are affected more. This is the problem the CEO faces… It couldn’t have come at a worse time.”
In March, Massmart Holdings said it was still feeling the severe impact of a July 2021 civil unrest in its core market that led to the closure of 43 stores and resulted in lost sales.
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