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David Jones online doubles as foot traffic plummets in March

As customers increasingly self-isolate and avoid what remains of bricks-and-mortar retail, David Jones has seen sales through its online channel more than double in the month of March.

Online sales rose 108 per cent during the month, and made up 20.3 per cent of sales. However, overall sales for the period fell 19 per cent on the same period of FY19.

South African parent-company Woolworths Holdings said while the majority of David Jones stores across Australia and New Zealand remain open, smaller stores such as those in Barangaroo in Sydney and James Street in Brisbane have been closed. 

“The impact of the slowdown due to COVID-19 was seen earlier in stores that have a higher proportion of tourist trade and Asian demographic customers,” Woolworths Holdings said in a trading update. 

“The impact has subsequently become more widespread across all stores and customer segments with a significant reduction in foot traffic in March.

The group said footfall had continued to fall, and it was not focusing on stimulating trade, reducing inventory and generation cash reserves. How the business plans on doing these things, however, was not specified.

Woolworths Holdings stable-mate Country Road Group, made up of Country Road, Mimco, Politix, Trenery and Witchery, closed all stores on 28 March for at least four weeks.

In the process the business stood down its retail employees while keeping its online channel running. 

During the first two weeks of March store traffic in these stores fell 36 per cent, and a further 60 per cent in the following two weeks, causing a 32.3 per cent decrease in sales compared to the previous period. 

Across its Australian, New Zealand and South African operations, Woolworths Holdings is expecting to take a 20 per cent hit to headline earnings for the year to 28 June 2020 due to global shifts and restrictions on trade in place. 

In response, the Woolworths Holdings board, group CEO and senior executive teams are foregoing 30 per cent of fees and salaries over the next three months.

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