Festive cheer for beleaguered high street as John Lewis sales rise

BRITAIN-ECONOMY-RETAIL-BUSINESS-EARNINGS-JOHN LEWIS

BRITAIN-ECONOMY-RETAIL-BUSINESS-EARNINGS-JOHN LEWIS

The high street was beset by heavy discounting before Christmas and John Lewis's "never knowingly undersold" policy forces it to match rivals' price cuts.

In the week to 29 December, sales at the department store chain were up 4.5 per cent, driven by a 103 per cent increase in gift food purchases.

A last-minute flurry of Christmas Eve shoppers and early bargain hunters helped deliver a bounce in John Lewis sales in the crucial Christmas week, according to fresh figures.

Sales at its Waitrose supermarket chain rose 19.2% in the same week, while sales for the week ending 22 December were down 11.7% compared with equivalent weeks previous year.

The John Lewis gifts, cooking and dining segment also had a stellar week, with sales up by a quarter.

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A Waitrose spokesperson said: "As always at this time of year, our sales figures are heavily distorted by the fall of Christmas and New Year".

Its collapse comes as HMV appointed administrators and follows on from the demise of Poundworld, Maplin and Toys R Us a year ago. John Lewis said that electrical and home technology sales rose 3.1%, with Apple products performing particularly well and communication technology products also up.

Next kicks off the festive reporting season with its results on Thursday.

Other firms issuing Christmas trading updates over the coming weeks include Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Ted Baker, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and Dixons Carphone.

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