Wesfarmers unable to quantify impact
In a detailed update released today, the retailer said it expected weak discretionary spending to continue, particularly on apparel, as panic buyers loaded up on essential cleaning and hygiene products.
The group said its industrial and safety businesses were also experiencing strong demand for essential protective clothing.
Wesfarmers said it expected this changed behaviour to continue, posing a risk on the outlook of sales across the group, but was unable to estimate the impact of COVID-19 on its full-year results.
It has, however, flagged extra operating costs for measures taken in response to the virus.
“These measures also include actions to protect the safety of our customers; with more intensive cleaning of stores and an increased focus on cashless transactions,” he said.
Wesfarmers recently extended paid leave to casual workers for shifts missed during periods of self-isolation.
The group said it maintained a robust balance sheet that was strengthened by the sale of its 4.9 per cent interest in Coles last month for around $1.1 billion.
Its shares were up 1.3 per cent to $35.34 at 12:55pm AEDT.
Closing price for the last 90 trading days
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Index = 100 as of 4 Jan 2016