(Bloomberg) -- Shoprite Holdings Ltd., Africa’s largest supermarket chain, said it’s attracting more shoppers by shielding consumers from most price increases. 

Customer visits to stores including Checkers and Shoprite in the six months through December climbed 6.4%, with the average amount spent by each shopper rising 7.7%, the Cape Town-based retailer said in a statement Tuesday. 

“Shoprite doesn’t get beaten on price — and it’s a very competitive market,” Chief Executive Officer Pieter Engelbrecht said in a presentation. “Every day we think of how we can reduce pricing, what development we can do to make product more affordable to help people basically survive,” he said.

With more than a third of South Africans being unemployed, about 10 million people live off a 350-rand ($18.37) monthly government grant. Since 2016, Shoprite has sold a loaf of bread for 5 rand and for the same price sells 1.5 million meals a week that include food such as burger. The company also sells small packets of chocolate biscuits and crisps for 1 rand each.

“I know of no other retailer that sells product at that price,” Engelbrecht said. “You can pick up a one-rand coin on the pavement and you can put a smile on a kid’s face.”

What Bloomberg Intelligence Says...

Shoprite’s fiscal 2024 outlook seems to put more emphasis on sales — albeit with inflation slowing to only 5.3% in the first six weeks of the second half — to take advantage of the relative weakness of its larger rivals with some margin contraction as a consequence. 

— Charles Allen, Bloomberg Intelligence senior analyst

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Lower fuel prices and improvement at its supply chain helped South Africa’s second-largest company by revenue maintain its margin. Shoprite’s shares rose as much as 3.1% in Johannesburg, the biggest intraday gain in a month, even as the benchmark index dropped. 

The company is also expanding in specialist clothing, baby, outdoor and pet stores in South Africa after closing its main grocery business in several other countries across the continent. This has allowed it to broaden its offering and add to floor space in its home country, which accounts for more than 80% of sales through 2,237 stores.

(Updates with comment from CEO in third paragraph.)

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