Jan 1, 2021
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Primark lost sales estimate increased as lockdowns continue

Jan 1, 2021

Primark’s owner Associated British Foods ended 2020 on a low note “in the light of [the] announcements by the UK and Republic of Ireland governments regarding increased restrictions on the movement of people and trading activity to limit the spread of Covid-19”.

Empty Primark stores mean more lost sales - Photo: Sandra Halliday

What it means is that as of January 1, as many as 253 Primark stores were temporarily closed, representing 64% of its total retail selling space. 

The announced periods of closure vary by market, but adding them all up, its estimated loss of sales for the shuttered stores in the current lockdowns and in its current financial year is now around £650 million. That’s up from the £430 million it estimated as of December 4.

And it comes in addition to the hundreds of millions that the firm lost in the lockdowns in spring 2020.

The company will deliver a trading update on January 14, at which point most of its stores are still likely to be closed.

Primark is almost unique among big names in fashion retail in that it has no online operations to fall back on. And despite years of speculation, plus the issues it has faced in 2020, the retailer appears to be no more interested in launching a webstore than it ever was.

One bright spot for the chain is that when its stores reopened in late spring and early summer, it was one of the most popular destinations for shoppers. That said, its flagships in city centres suffered along with other retailers in those destinations as consumers shopped local and tourist flows plunged.

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