Lockdowns wipe out £2bn of sales at Primark

Covid-19 lockdowns have cost Primark £2bn in lost sales, according to its parent company, Associated British Foods.

The discount fashion retailer does not sell products online, which meant that it was unable to continue trading when local restrictions forced its stores to close.

It also has no plans to offer a click-and-collect service during the coming lockdown in England.

A spokesperson for Primark quoted by BBC News said: “Although we will look at alternative business models from time to time, there are no immediate plans to trade online.”

The UK first went into lockdown at the end of March and “non-essential” retailers were permitted to reopen in June. Since then, Primark has seen “robust” sales of around £2bn.

The retailer’s UK like-for-like sales are down 12% from a year ago. It has seen slower sales at its large city centre stores because of fewer commuters and tourists, but sales at retail park locations are higher and shopping centres and regional high street stores are broadly in line with last year.

George Weston, chief executive of Associated British Foods, has called for extended store trading hours in December to help retailers offset the impact of the latest round of lockdowns in the UK.

“In some locations we could even open 24 hours. We know the demand is going to be there,” Weston said, as quoted by the Financial Times.

“It would be easier to limit numbers in stores if we could say to people ‘you can come back at these other times’,” he added.