UK retailer John Lewis sees 2.3 percent rise in Christmas week sales

31 Dec, 2015 11:35 am

LONDON – John Lewis, Britain’s biggest department store chain, posted a 2.3 percent year-on-year rise in sales in the week to Dec. 26, boosted by shoppers going to its website and mobile app to buy gadgets such as gaming devices and wearable technology.

John Lewis is the only major British retailer to publish weekly sales data, providing the most up-to-date snapshot of shopping trends over the Christmas period that are closely watched by equity investors and economists alike.

The company, which has outperformed rivals for the last six years due to a strong online offering and a bias to the more affluent southeast of England, said the sales growth figure was suppressed by the timing of Christmas.

Although the John Lewis Clearance sales started online on Christmas Eve, its stores did not re-open until Dec. 27, which falls into the trading data for the next week.

“We are now in the final week of our peak trading period with Clearance in full swing across our shops and online, and we are seeing customers continue to enjoy our reductions across fashion, home and electricals and home technology,” said Managing Director Andy Street.

In the week ended Dec. 26, sales rose 2.3 percent to 129.2 million pounds ($191 million), with sales from the website up 25.1 percent. Strong sellers included headphones, wearable devices such as Fitbits, jewellery, watches and beauty products.

British consumers have driven the country’s economic recovery over the past two years, helped by a plunge in inflation to around zero. But wage growth remains weak and has not recovered its levels of before the financial crisis.

British retail sales grew slightly less than expected in the run-up to Christmas and the outlook for January was weak, according to a survey this week by the employers’ group, the Confederation of British Industry. Most major British retailers will update the market in the coming weeks on how they fared during Christmas. -Reuters

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