Retailers close doors for Madiba’s funeral

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Massmart, which owns Game, says closing its stores on Sunday will allow its staff to be with their families on the day of Mandelas funeral. Photo: Leon Nicholas.

Johannesburg - As a gesture of respect, several major South African retailers will close their stores on Sunday, the day of Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Yesterday Woolworths, Shoprite and Italtile announced that all their stores would be closed. They join Massmart, which announced on Monday that all its stores would shut.

“Woolworths will close its stores on Sunday, in honour of Madiba. The store closure also allows our employees time off to attend the funeral or to follow the proceedings with family and friends,” the group said.

The food and clothing retailer had also tried to “make it possible for our employees to attend memorial services around the country, with some employees applying for leave”.

Massmart, which owns the Makro, Game, Dionwired and Builders Warehouse chains, said the store closures on Sunday would allow its staff to “spend time with their families on the day of Madiba’s funeral and honour a great statesman”.

Italtile, which owns brands such as Italtile, CTM and TopT, said all its stores, as well as its support offices, would be closed to allow workers an opportunity to be with their families on the day of Mandela’s burial in Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

President Jacob Zuma declared a period of mourning for the week leading to the funeral, after the former president’s death last Thursday.

Pick n Pay said it was “consulting with our customers and our staff regarding our opening hours on Sunday”.

Absa Investment analyst Chris Gilmour said it was interesting to see big retailers closing at the height of the festive shopping season. “If they all close no one is going to gain any market share on that day.”

Jean Pierre Verster, an analyst at 36One Asset Management, said one day out of 365 days in a year would not have a significant financial impact. “As a gesture of respect this needs to be applauded.”

He added that the funeral was on the Sunday of a long weekend, so “it would not have been a very busy shopping day, which further diminishes the financial impact”.

He said this would be good for employees as they would not feel they were missing out. - Business Report

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