John Lewis reports record-breaking festive season

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The Independent Online

John Lewis said today it had notched up more than half a billion pounds in sales across its department stores after a record-breaking festive season.

The group saw comparable sales soar by 12.7 per cent year-on-year to £500.76 million in the five weeks to January 2 thanks to "excellent" Christmas and clearance trading.

Its resurgent supermarket chain Waitrose also hailed a strong Christmas, with total sales up 16.1 per cent in the 13 weeks to December 26.

Like-for-like sales rose 9 per cent at the group's grocery arm - a performance which has thrown down the gauntlet to rivals ahead of Christmas trading updates from Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer later this week.

John Lewis Partnership said its department stores broke a series of records, smashing its best ever weekly sales record in early December and seeing sales surpass the £100 million milestone for four of the five trading weeks, including the most recent week to January 2.

Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, said: "We have seen excellent sales during Christmas and Clearance - customers have responded extremely well to our offer."

But he predicted a "long slow recovery" for the sector over the year ahead.

A Boxing Day sales rush made up for a disappointing pre-Christmas run up, with a record number of shoppers hitting the high street on December 26 and 27, according to footfall figures from market data firm Experian.

It said there was an 18.5 per cent jump in the number of Boxing Day shoppers compared with the previous year, with a 17.9 per cent rise on December 27.

John Lewis delayed its post-Christmas in-store sales until the day after Boxing Day, but kicked off its clearance online at 6pm on Christmas Eve and enjoyed the highest-ever number of visits to the site on Boxing Day.

Pillows, towels, LCD televisions and laptops were among the best online sellers.

John Lewis stores saw fashion sales, including beauty, rise 22 per cent, while home sales lifted 19.6 per cent and electricals and home technology sales increased by 11.4 per cent in the five week festive period.

Over the 13 weeks to January 2, comparable sales across stores and the website grew by 12.2 per cent.

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