Saudi grocer Othaim sales dip a year on from panic buying supermarket sweep

Net profit fell to $15.4mln for the first three months of the year

  
A Saudi woman measures her temperature as she enters the Al-Othaim market amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 22, 2021. Image used for illustrative purpose

A Saudi woman measures her temperature as she enters the Al-Othaim market amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 22, 2021. Image used for illustrative purpose

REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri
 
 
 
DUBAI: Saudi supermarket chain Abdullah Al Othaim Markets reported a 42 percent drop in first quarter profit, a year on from the early panic-buying days of the pandemic.


Net profit fell to SR57.7 million ($15.4 million) for the first three months of the year from almost SR100 million a year earlier, the company said in a Tadawul filing. Sales fell 11.9 percent over the same period to about SR2.1 billion.

The company said that the decline followed the “abnormal growth in retail sales as a result of high demand to buy groceries and food supplies,” following the coronavirus outbreak in the Kingdom last year. It also cited the closure of schools and an increase in value added tax as factors that weighed on its performance.

Supermarkets worldwide have benefited from a boom in grocery buying over the last year, especially at the start of the pandemic when supermarket shelves were stripped of essential items as consumers went in to panic buying mode. As restaurants and cafes closed their doors, many consumers compensated by buying more food to consume at home.

Now global supermarket chains are adjusting to the return of more normal consumer purchasing patterns as lockdowns are lifted and economies re-open.

Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts said on Wednesday that that while customers shopping more normally would impact sales growth this year, the costs of the crisis would also fall.

“Like our customers, we are all looking forward to things feeling more normal over the coming months,” he said.

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