S Group's grocery trade sales in Finland totalled EUR 1,579 million. This amounts to an increase of 4.4%. Flexible opening hours and lower prices have been greeted with joy in the stores.
"We can already see the long-term impact of lowering prices. Higher customer and sales volumes, as well as extended opening hours, have also taken our sales in euros to the growth path. Our estimate is that our market share in the grocery trade has continued to increase in the first part of the year", says Taavi Heikkilä, CEO of SOK.
Sales in the supermarket trade, which is the largest business area of S Group, totalled EUR 1,791 million. This amounts to an increase of 3.6%. Extended opening hours and long public holidays have provided many people with more time for unhurried shopping.
Service station store and fuel sales totalled EUR 336 million in January–March, representing a decrease of 2.4% year-on-year. This is explained by the fact that the world market prices of fuel still continued to decrease. In addition, the deregulation of business hours has caused a slight decrease in ABC store sales.
Travel industry and hospitality business sales totalled EUR 179 million. The downsizing of the network of outlets caused a 2.7% decrease in sales, but comparable sales reached the previous year's level. Fast food outlet sales, especially of those located next to large supermarkets, increased as a result of extended opening hours.
The first part of the year for department store and speciality store trade started in a varying way. Sales for January–March decreased by 9.2% and stood at EUR 64 million. However, the "3+1 Päivää" (3+1 days) campaign at the end of March/beginning of April was the most successful ever.
S Group is monitoring this year's sales development with interest.
"We will continue to test extended opening hours and to monitor how they affect our sales. The success of flexible opening hours proves that trade sector deregulation is worth it", says Heikkilä.