DEPARTMENT store chain John Lewis continued its winning streak as sales jumped 26% in the first week of the January sales following a lucrative festive season.
The group reported sales of £91.8m for the week to January 5 against £73m in 2012, with growth also improving on last year’s 25.7% hike.
The results follow figures last week confirming a buoyant Christmas for the group, with a last-minute rush before the holidays earning it £684.8m in sales in the five weeks to December 29 and like-for-like sales up 13%.
The group suggested the early launch of new season stock to benefit from high footfall during clearance sales may have contributed to last week’s sales rise. Electronics sales were especially strong, up 44% on last year thanks to soaring demand for tablet computers. Nick Bubb, independent retail analyst, said: “Notwithstanding the adverse ’mix effect’ of so much business coming in low-margin electricals, John Lewis have had a terrific second half, despite tough comparisons.”
Fashion sales were up 20% from last year, with an increased demand for fitness gear – up 19% – and handbags up 17%. Howard Archer, chief UK & European economist for IHS Global Insight, suggested the impressive clearance results so far could be attributed to shoppers holding out for the post-Christmas sales.
He said: “The very impressive John Lewis sales figures suggest that consumers were very keen to take advantage of genuine bargains in the clearance sales to treat themselves to items that they were otherwise reluctant to purchase in a still difficult and uncertain economic environment.
The wider John Lewis Partnership also reported Waitrose sales of £107m for the week, up 19.7% on the year before thanks to the UK’s “celebratory mood”. The supermarket recorded a 147% increase in frozen party food sales, 346% in caviar sales and £1m in champagne sales.