Ahold Delhaize issued a first quarter business update and 2020 profit outlook, reporting a 34% U.S. sales boost for the month of March, excluding fuel.
The massive number is attributed to customers “stockpiling in March,” Frans Muller, president and chief executive officer of Ahold Delhaize said Tuesday. Across its U.S. stores and in Europe, the retailer said sales increased significantly for the first quarter. As a whole, sales were expected to be up 15% in the first quarter, compared to 14% in the U.S. and 10% in Europe.
“We expect underlying operating margin in Q1 to be above the prior year. This is partly due to a timing effect,” Muller said. “The Q1 margin has benefitted from the higher sales trends experienced at an earlier stage compared to the timing of the significant investments made enhancing associate pay and benefits and implementing additional safety and protective measures, which have become material towards the end of Q1.”
Last week Kroger saw a similar boost, reporting a 30% sales increase for the month of March, excluding fuel. Kroger also reported the increase was from U.S. consumers buying up for coronavirus preparedness.
Regarding the outlook for the year ahead, Muller said things are uncertain. “It is too early to know how this will ultimately impact our great local brands and the communities that they serve. Although we continued to experience higher than normal sales growth through the end of March, there is increased uncertainty in sales over the course of the year, especially as it applies to changes in consumer shopping patterns and behavior.”