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Fashion retailer Truworths' earnings boosted by credit sales

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers walk past a Truworths shop with sale advertisements on its windows at the Sandton shopping mall in Johannesburg

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -South African fashion retailer Truworths reported a 10.3% jump in half-year earnings on Thursday as cash-strapped shoppers snapped up dresses and shoes on credit amid the high cost of living.

Middle-income consumers are increasingly turning to credit to fund non-essential goods such as clothes, shoes and household items, signalling pressure on disposable incomes.

Credit sales made up 52% of overall sales at Truworths, which also owns British-based shoe chain Office, in the 26 weeks ended Jan. 1, versus 51% in 2021.

Truworths said headline earnings per share, the main profit measure in South Africa, rose to 494.6 cents over the half year from 448.6 cents in the comparable period of 2021.

Group retail sales increased 13.7% to 11.3 billion rand ($619.4 million), with credit sales up 16.5% and cash sales rising 10.8%.

The growth came despite record electricity outages in the last quarter of 2022, which have left South African households and businesses without power for up to 10 hours a day.

All of Truworths South African stores have been able to trade during power cuts, including through the use of back-up power installed by the group or made available by landlords.

At present, about 82% of Truworths Africa's turnover is covered by back-up power, the retailer said, adding that it would install additional capacity where appropriate.

"Notwithstanding these efforts, load shedding (power cuts) is likely to have had a negative impact on retail footfall, and consequently on retail sales, especially in malls without back-up power," it said.

Retail sales for Truworths Africa, the group's biggest business, rose by 13.8%, while Office sales rose by 13.6% in sterling terms and 13.3% in rand terms.

($1 = 18.2422 rand)

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla;Editing by Alison Williams, Kirsten Donovan)