Leisurewear demand boosts sales at Primark

Primark saw strong sales of “comfort wear” this summer, but lower than expected sales overall.

The discount chain’s owner, Associated British Foods plc (ABF), said that sales in late June and early July were affected by the “rapid and significant increase” in the number of people required to self-isolate following contact tracing alerts from the NHS app.

Caution among consumers during that period had an impact on high street footfall and Primark’s like-for-like sales were down 24% compared with last year. However, as the self-isolation rules were eased there was a consistent improvement in sales.

In particular, shoppers have been opting for leisurewear such as leggings and cycle shorts, and seam-free matching separates for women.

And Primark has managed to maintain its market share compared to the same period two years ago, despite competition from fast fashion retailers that — unlike Primark — offer online sales.

ABF’s other businesses include Silver Spoon, Allied Bakeries, Twinings and Ovaltine.

Adjusted operating profit in its fourth quarter ending 18 September 2021 for both Primark and the food businesses is anticipated to exceed the company’s earlier expectations.

“Primark’s operating profit margin in the period was strong despite lower than expected sales and Sugar will deliver a much-improved profit year-on-year,” ABF said.