South Africa's Massmart flags slower sales growth


JOHANNESBURG, July 17 (Reuters) - South African retailer
Massmart <MSMJ.J> reported a sharp slowdown in half-year sales
growth on Monday as its home market slipped into recession.
    Massmart, a unit of Wal-Mart Stores <WMT.N>, said total
sales rose 0.5 percent to 42.5 billion rand ($3.28 billion) in
the six months to the end of June, as weak consumer spending and
low consumer confidence weighed on its business.
    Sales increased 8.7 percent in the same period last year.
    Massmart's home market and by far its largest revenue source
has slumped into its first recession in eight years, data
released last month showed, with political turmoil sending
business and consumer sentiment to multi-year lows. [nL8N1J9447]
    The company, which sells food, general merchandise and
household appliances in 13 African countries, said its
comparable stores sales decreased by 1.6 percent.
    Consumer spending was weak, especially on discretionary
items, it said in a statement.
    While food and liquor sales rose 3 percent, general
merchandise, home improvement and mobile device sales decreased
2.9 percent.
    Upmarket food and clothing retailer Woolworths last week
cited difficult trading conditions as it flagged a lower
full-year profit. [nL8N1K10RW]
    ($1 = 12.9654 rand)

 (Reporting by TJ Strydom; Editing by Mark Potter)
 ((tj.strydom@thomsonreuters.com; +27 11 775 3150; Reuters
Messaging: tj.strydom.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))


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