Wal-Mart’s Massmart Unit Sales Climb 15% Amid Spending Slowdown

Massmart Holdings Ltd., South Africa’s biggest food and goods wholesaler, said sales rose 15 percent amid a slowdown in consumer spending and an increase in the jobless rate.

The company, in which Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has a controlling stake, said sales climbed to 36.1 billion rand ($4.2 billion) in the 26 weeks through Dec. 23 from 31.6 billion rand a year earlier, Massmart said in a statement. Inflation for the period was estimated at 3.7 percent, it said. Sales at stores open for a year or more increased 7.3 percent, the Johannesburg-based company said.

Consumers, who account for almost two-thirds of demand in Africa’s biggest economy, came under pressure last year as the economy lost jobs while food and fuel prices climbed. The nation has an unemployment rate of 25.5 percent, the highest among emerging-market countries, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Retail-sales growth slowed more than expected in October as expansion stalled and the unemployment rate rose.

Massmart fell 2.1 percent to 191.71 rand by 9:34 a.m. in Johannesburg. More than 21,000 shares, or 8 percent of the daily average over the last three months, changed hands.

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