JOHANNESBURG, Feb 12 (Reuters) - South African retailer and wholesaler SPAR Group Ltd on Tuesday reported an 8.2 percent increase in 17-week sales, buoyed by its Southern Africa operations.
SPAR, a grocery chain which also sells building materials and medicine in Southern Africa, said group sales for the 17-weeks ended Jan. 26, rose to 36.53 billion rand ($2.65 billion)from 33.78 billion rand in the comparative period last year.
South African retailers have struggled to significantly lift sales and profit to double-digit numbers as elevated household debt, higher fuel prices and an increase in value-added tax has squeezed consumers' income.
In Southern Africa, its biggest market, turnover increased 7.7 percent, while on a like-for-like basis, sales increased by 7.6 percent, "reflecting the weak consumer spend," the group said in its trading update.
The liquor business remained resilient over the important holiday shopping season, with growth exceeding 19.2 percent in a highly competitive retail sector.
In Ireland, the business increased turnover by 8.4 percent in euro-currency terms, while SPAR Switzerland continued to reflect the negative local market conditions with sales declining 1.5 percent in Swiss franc currency terms.
SPAR will publish its interim results on May 15. ($1 = 13.7942 rand) (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; editing by David Evans)