Boots sales plunge after pandemic hits high street and travel stores

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Nottingham City Centre Stock - (Copyright PA Wire)
13:24pm, Thu 15 Oct 2020
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Boots has revealed a dive in store sales over the past quarter as its high street and travel sites continue to struggle in the face of the pandemic.

It told investors on Thursday that group sales slipped 16.7% over the three months to August 31, despite being boosted by strong online growth.

However, like-for-like retail sales fell by 29.2% as store footfall continued to be “significantly reduced” due to the pandemic, particularly impacting its high street and travel stores.

Nevertheless, it said this highlighted an improvement in footfall from the previous quarter, when like-for-like retail sales were 48% lower as a result of store closures.

In July, Boots said it would more than 4,000 jobs, mainly affecting staff at its Nottingham support office, in a bid to mitigate the impact of the virus.

On Thursday, Boots said it had lost market share in all of its categories apart from beauty over the quarter.

However, it hailed strong online sales as Boots.com reported 155% growth in the fourth quarter, following from a 78% increase in the previous quarter.

It came as parent business Walgreen Boots Alliance (WBA) said its international pharmacy retail division, which includes the UK chain, posted a 132 million dollar (£102 million) operating loss, which it said was primarily driven by lower UK sales.

Stefano Pessina, executive vice chairman and chief executive of WBA, said: “Despite uncertainty amid the global Covid-19 pandemic, we are seeing gradual improvement in key US and UK markets and continued strong performance in our wholesale business.

“I’m also encouraged by the accelerating growth in our e-commerce platforms.

“Now, more than ever, our pharmacy-centred business is at the heart of community healthcare and we are expanding on that role for the future.”

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