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PriceSmart expands e-commerce platform

PriceSmart Inc. will introduce a new e-commerce platform in all 13 markets, it said on Friday, June 5.

The company, which has one store in Kingston Jamaica, with plans to introduce another in St Catherine, initiated its Click and Go program during the pandemic in one club in Costa Rica.

By the end of May, it was offering the program at most clubs in 11 of 13 markets.

The Click and Go program allows members to use PriceSmart’s e-commerce platform, identify and select merchandise, order and pay online, and then have their order deposited into their car at their nearby club.

Chief Executive Officer, Sherry S. Bahrambeygui, said the company expects to launch this program in the remaining two countries during the month of June.

“However, we cannot predict how quickly and completely these restrictions will be removed or the extent of the impact of COVID-19 on our Members and our markets.”

– Chief Executive Officer, Sherry S. Bahrambeygui

The company operates 45 warehouse clubs in 12 countries and one US territory. It has seven each in Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama; five in the Dominican Republic, four in Trinidad and Guatemala; three in Honduras; two each in El Salvador and Nicaragua; and one each in Aruba, Barbados, Jamaica and the United States Virgin Islands.

The company expects to open a smaller format warehouse club in Liberia, Costa Rica on June 17, 2020.

In a release on May sales this week, Bahrambeygui said, “we are encouraged by our members’ adoption of our Click and Go program, which provides an alternative and convenient way to shop, while reducing physical contact.”

“We continue to work on improving and expanding our online initiatives, in conjunction with optimising our club operations to allow Members to shop safely, quickly and efficiently, particularly in those markets still subject to government restrictions on club hours and traffic allowed in the clubs.”

PriceSmart indicated that while it expects government restrictions under COVID conditions to change in June, it was not certain how fast normal conditions would resume.

On Friday the company announced that for the month of May 2020 net merchandise sales decreased 1.9 per cent to US $246.3 million from US $251.0 million in May a year earlier.

Foreign currency exchange fluctuations impacted net merchandise sales negatively by $6.1 million or 2.5 per cent versus the same one-month period in the prior year.

For the five weeks ended May 31, 2020, comparable net merchandise sales for the 41 warehouse clubs open at least 13  and a half full months decreased 6.7 per cent  when compared to the same five-week period last year.

Foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations impacted comparable net merchandise sales negatively by $6.7 million or 2.4 per cent versus the same period in the prior year.

Bahrambeygui said that PriceSmart saw improvement in sales compared to the prior month, despite a significant reduction of our normal operating capacity.

She disclosed, “In May, we continued to experience limitations on our ability to serve our Members due to closures or restrictions impacting food service, tire centres and optical services, several days of total club closures, curfews, stay-at-home mandates, reduced hours, limits on people permitted in the clubs, and other COVID-related mandates and measures.

“Many governments in our markets are considering or experimenting with reductions in the restrictions in June. However, we cannot predict how quickly and completely these restrictions will be removed or the extent of the impact of COVID-19 on our Members and our markets.”

Fiscal year to date, which includes the nine months ended May 31, 2020, net merchandise sales increased 4.1 per cent to US $2,418.8 million from US$2,322.7 million for the nine months ended May 31, 2019.

PriceSmart plans to release third quarter fiscal year 2020 financial results on Thursday, July 9, 2020, after the market closes.

Headquartered in San Diego, the company owns and operates US-style membership shopping warehouse clubs in Latin America and the Caribbean, selling merchandise and services at low prices to PriceSmart Members.