Store closures in Victoria coupled with lower footfall in CBD and airport locations pulled total sales down 11.7% for David Jones in the first 20 weeks of the 2021 financial year. Comparable sales were down 14.6% during the period.

The sales drop was partially offset by a shift to online and strong demand in beauty, homewares, and appliances. Online sales increased by 65% and contributed to 19.6% of total sales.

Excluding the Victorian store network, which traded 76% down on the prior period on a total sales basis, David Jones sales increased 6.7% during the period.

Group sales for David Jones’ parent company, Woolworths Holdings, increased 3.5% compared to the previous corresponding period but dropped 2% in constant currency terms. The company said recovery is slow and consumer confidence remains low in South Africa.

“Inventory levels remain well managed, assisted by the ongoing shift to online, however the pandemic continues to disrupt supply chains both locally and globally, which we are monitoring and managing carefully,” the trading update to investors read.

“Additionally, the various initiatives underway to ensure a more sustainable funding structure of our Australian entities are progressing well.”