The biggest retailers in South Africa: Shoprite vs Woolworths vs Spar vs Pick n Pay

 ·20 May 2024

Shoprite is South Africa’s biggest retailer by several metrics – not only in terms of its store network, but also in terms of sheer sales volume, revenue and growth.

South Africa’s retail landscape is proving challenging, coming off significant disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic and then straight into a power and cost of living crisis.

According to the Deloitte Retail Outlook for 2024, despite the headwinds faced by retailers at large – but in South Africa especially – most businesses are optimistic about their prospects.

Looking at the financial performances of South Africa’s biggest retailers in the past financial year, it’s easy to see why, with billions of rands in sales and growth in profits showing that they are capable of beating the downturn.

However, this does not mean things have been smooth sailing.

Already with interim results in 2024, groups like Pick n Pay have made their struggles known. The group posted a significant loss for the first half of the current year, with CEO Sean Summers back on board to try and turn the ship around.

Spar, meanwhile, has had to struggle through its own battles, with tech problems eating away at profitability.

Even a business like Woolworths—which say excellent results in FY23—have had to contend with a tighter economy, taking a hit as consumers struggle to find the money to stick to premium shopping.

Biggest retailers

In previous years, Deloitte published an annual Global Powers of Retail report, ranking the 250 biggest retail groups across the world.

However, given the disruption suffered in the retail sector in 2020 through to 2023, the group did not publish a global ranking. The last report was published for 2023, with a more general outlook report published in 2024.

The 2023 Deloitte ranking is based on publicly available data for FY2020, covering fiscal years ended through June 2022. Deloitte analyses a company’s performance across geographies, sectors, and channels.

In the last report, Shoprite was ranked as the biggest retailer in South Africa, ranking 103rd overall. This was followed by Spar, Pick n Pay and Woolworths.

Despite no ranking for 2024, all of the major JSE-listed retailers covered by the report have published their full-year results for 2023, which allows us to get a sense of their scale using the same metrics for South Africa.

FY2023 SA2022 Revenue2023 RevenueGrowthStores
Shoprite147 368173 63417.8%2 037
Pick n Pay94 535102 7218.7%2 018
Spar86 80091 0725.1%1 998*
Woolworths66 066**73 228**10.8%**1 354**
*Excluding BuildIt and Pharmacy@Spar | **Group total

Overall, Shoprite is the country’s retail revenue king, reporting a massive 17.8% in sales revenue growth in 2023.

Woolworths had the second-largest retail growth (10.8%), but Pick n Pay had the second largest revenue haul overall.

According to Deloitte, the biggest issue facing retailers in 2024 is inflation, which eats away at consumers’ budgets and capacity for spending.

“After a prolonged period of supressed consumer spending, macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainty, and rapid changes in consumer behavior (among other things), the global retail industry stands at a crossroads,” it said.

Retailers will be forced to make decisions about long-term investments in new technology and business models while at the same time managing the rising cost of doing business and a decline in the spending power of consumers.

With inflation remaining sticky on the higher-end, and risks around weather and geopolitical disruptions, Deloitte said that retailers are looking at ways to protect their businesses from disruptions, addressing fundamental systemic challenges to their businesses such as cost pressures, fragile supply chains and climate-related matters ahead of other priorities

However, there is a prevailing optimism that the the second half of the calendar year will hold some relief—for businesses and consumers alike—which makes the prospects for FY2024 and 2025 far more appealing.

Read: Boost for retail in South Africa

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