Christmas trading

John Lewis gets an eleventh-hour Christmas sales bonus


Retailer John Lewis ended 2018 on a high with sales up by 11 per cent for the last week of December compared with the previous year.

The figures cover the John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarkets and come as high street retailers struggle in the face of online competition.

A number of high-profile retail brands have gone to the wall or reported falling sales, raising fears about the future of UK town centres.

John Lewis Partnership bucked the trend with strong sales driven by last-minute shoppers seeking gifts, food and drink.

The biggest lift came from Waitrose, which was up by 19.2 per cent for the last week of December on the previous year.

At John Lewis, beauty and wellbeing products led the charge, with a 25 per cent increase on 2018.

The Partnership – John Lewis and Waitrose combined – had been heading for a flat end to the year with sales for the week ending December 22 down 4.8 per cent.

The start of clearance sales helped boost the final week figures, with John Lewis reporting that electrical and home technology sales rose 3.1 per cent.

Fresh and frozen food sales were a success story at Waitrose, with the supermarket reporting a 22 per cent year-on-year rise.

The Waitrose figures were distorted by the fact that Christmas fell on a different trading week to last year, giving 2018 sales an extra lift compared to 2017.

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.

“Both these weekly performances were in line with expectations.”

The John Lewis figures are a rare positive for the UK retail sector, with the author of a new report claiming that the country has double the number of shops it needs.

Sir John Timpson, briefed with looking at ways to revive UK high streets, said local councils need more money to revive ailing town centres.

He said any revival would have to be a ‘bottom up job’ with council taking the lead on turning town centres meeting places for the community.

Sir John, whose family founded the Timpson’s shoe repair and key-cutting business said task forces should be set up for each town centre.

These should tackle issues such as making planning decisions ‘simpler and quicker.’

His report called for the £675m already announced in the Budget for High Street improvements to be spent on improving transport and public spaces.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *