Dis-Chem says customers shopping habits have changed

CAPE TOWN – Dis-Chem, one of South Africa’s largest pharmacy groups, has said through the lockdown their customers shopping patterns have changed drastically.

Throughout the pandemic and national lockdown, Dischem has played a large role in providing essential items and services to their customers with patterns changing drastically in the way they shop with the beginning of the pandemic leading to panic buying to the eventual easing of lockdown levels and restrictions seeing many customers looking to avoid shopping malls leading to a spike in online store purchases.

Between March 1 and August 15, 2020, Dis-Chem saw revenue growth of 8.8 percent to R11.7 billion with the group able to operate throughout the national lockdown despite level 5 prohibiting the sale of non-essential items which accounts for 20 percent of their products resulting in a R200 million loss in revenue during April.

Dis-Chem acknowledged how various restrictions in each lockdown level changed shopping behaviours saying, “Fashion and entertainment are the biggest drivers of footfall in malls. As such, the
location of our stores in convenience centres vs malls played a vital role in the composition of turnover growth. The Group is amply represented in malls, thus the trend across the different levels of lockdown.”

Sales dropped by 7.8 percent in shopping malls while their convenience centre stores rose by 16.4 percent.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

The group mentions how the pandemic has also seen a drop in flu cases which has affected their dispensary department saying, “As a result of social distancing, increased sanitising measures, people working from home and children not going to school, the country experienced fewer cold and flu cases than in previous years. This adversely impacted the dispensary category, specifically over the counter (“OTC”) sales. Strong chronic drug adherence due to health education, awareness and higher patient risk, partially offset the impact.”

“The Group experienced significant online sales growth of 344 percent. The quick deployment of additional hubs together with an investment in the Group’s e-commerce platform enabled it to meet the
increased demand as best as possible,” with Dis-chem saying that Cpvid-19 has matured the e-commerce environment and consumer adaption by 3 to 5 years.

“We continue to benefit from the resilient nature of the industry in which we operate and are encouraged by elements of the changing healthcare landscape that highlight the importance of our core dispensary and clinic offerings.

“We are excited about the growth we have seen in our clinics, which together with our Telemedicine offering, will play an important role in the delivery and growth of the primary care market within South Africa’s healthcare system,” said Dis-Chem Chief Executive, Ivan Saltzman


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