Sales at South African grocery retailer Spar Group rose by 9.8% in the 18 weeks ended 29 January, but the country's ban on alcohol hit off-trade sales.
Spar, which has more than 4,300 stores across Southern Africa, Ireland, Poland and Switzerland, said group sales rose to 42.99 billion rand from 39.15 billion rand in the previous corresponding period.
South African retailers had largely soft trading at Christmas and in 'Black November', an extension of Black Friday when retailers offer discounts, as shoppers spent less on groceries.
Total sales in Southern Africa, Spar's largest market, which include grocery, alcoholic beverages and building materials, rose by 3.4%, reflecting weaker consumer spending and lost alcohol business, the retailer said.
Its core Spar grocery business in the region increased sales by 2.8%. Alcohol sales fell by 17.9%, adversely impacted by the ban on the sale of alcohol in South Africa imposed late in December as part of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
The retailer's building materials and do-it-yourself 'Build it' chain was the star performer, with sales up by 25.6%. Demand for construction products remained strong, driven by spending on home improvements as consumers stayed at home due to the pandemic.
The group's business in Ireland reported strong growth across all retail brands.
A recently acquired retail business in Poland proved vulnerable to the lockdown curbs, disrupting growth plans, but still increased turnover by 38.1% in local currency and 48.8% in rand terms.