// B&M posts rise in like-for-like sales in its fourth quarter
// The rise was due to customers shopping in its grocery, DIY & gardening categories during lockdown
B&M has recorded an “exceptionally strong” performance in its fourth quarter as customers flocked to the grocery, DIY and gardening categories during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The discount retailer saw like-for-likes rise by 6.6 per cent in the 13 weeks to March 28, thanks to consumers stocking up on supplies as the pandemic struck the UK.
B&M said revenue growth has continued since the start of its new financial year.
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In the eight weeks to May 23, like-for-like sales in its core UK business surged 22.7 per cent.
Meanwhile, the performance in its DIY and gardening categories offset “a significant fall in customer count” during the period.
Excluding those two categories, B&M’s like-for-likes rose by 10.3 per cent over the eight-week period.
However, B&M warned that the growth in DIY and gardening may represent “significant pull-forward in demand”, driven by warm weather and the lockdown, rather than additional sales.
The retailer added that it is experiencing “higher than normal” operating costs as a result of social distancing measures.
It paid its workers “premium wage rates” during the peak of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, all 49 UK stores that had previously been closed are temporarily open again for business.
“We have encountered exceptionally strong demand in our UK business over recent weeks,” B&M chief executive Simon Arora said.
“Customers have been coming to our stores much less frequently through the lockdown but their average spend has been much higher than normal.
“We have seen a significant bring-forward of demand in some key categories and the remarkably warm spring weather in the UK has been a major factor behind this during recent weeks.
“We are not expecting this current level of trading to continue as normal shopping patterns resume.
“Clearly, there is also considerable uncertainty in relation to both the progression of Covid-19 and the economic outlook and it is therefore hard to predict future trading levels.”
B&M will publish its full-year results on June 11.