John Lewis reports 'outstanding' Christmas


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The Independent Online

Strong sales of clothes and electrical items helped department store John Lewis take more than half a billion pounds in an “outstanding” Christmas.

The retail bellwether, which operates 35 stores, said sales were up 9.3% to £596 million in the five weeks to December 31.

Online revenues rose 28%, boosted by a near doubling in the number of shoppers using its click and collect service, while like-for-like sales, which exclude new store openings, were up 6%.

However, the figures are not expected to reflect the performance of the broader retail sector, as the chain claimed it gained market share in all categories with the help of its price matching pledge.

Its strongest sellers included iPads and Kindles, cashmere sweaters and bedding and linen.

The period saw it smash its previous weekly sales record, when it took £133.1 million in the seven days to December 17.

However, it has seen a fall in sales in the week after Christmas as it came up against strong comparisons with the year before when people rushed to buy big ticket items ahead of the hike in VAT to 20%.

Managing director Andy Street said: “Sales during the four weeks to Christmas Eve were outstanding.”

John Lewis's pre-Christmas sales were also flattered by softer figures from last year when the Arctic weather kept shoppers at home.

Perfumes proved a popular gift ahead of Christmas and accounted for half of all beauty sales in one week. The group said it sold enough Chanel No 5 and Coco Mademoiselle to fill 3,600 champagne glasses.

Other popular gifts included lingerie, speciality chocolate and Champagne.

Sales of toys were strong, with a storage unit shaped like a giant Lego man's head and Hexbug mini-robotic creatures among the favourites.

Baking gadgets and brightly coloured kitchen utensils such as cookie cutters, measures and cupcake cases and pudding bowls were also snapped up.

And sales of boys' and girls' hats, gloves and scarves and snowboots benefited from the recent cold snap.

Its post Christmas sale has seen strong demand for laptops, TVs, Apple MacBooks, Dyson vacuum cleaners, iPod speakers and homewares such as mattresses and duvets.