John Lewis sales rise as weather improves

John Lewis said its sales figures matched the improvement in temperatures last week as "pent-up customer demand" led to an 11.1% rise in turnover.

The department store chain reported that more than half of its outlets improved on last year's sales, with trading on Saturday particularly strong.

The previous week's sales figures showed a 1.4% decline as snow and ice kept shoppers away from stores during its peak clearance week.

John Lewis director Andrew Murphy said: "Once the temperature began to rise so too did our trade, with pent-up customer demand building from midweek and culminating in a great day's trade on Saturday."

Seven branches posted sales gains in the double digits, led by Trafford with an increase of 25.5%. London stores also did well after Oxford Street grew sales by 8.8% and Peter Jones in Sloane Square lifted by 15.4%.

Fashion sales were up by 19%, benefiting from strong revenues in cold weather products and in particular women's outerwear.

Electrical and technology was up by 2.2% against difficult comparatives while home increased by 15.4% after the company delayed VAT increases on most products.

Freddie George, an analyst at Seymour Pierce stockbrokers, said: "As with last year at this time the market might be surprised with the robustness of consumer sales despite a more difficult macro economic outlook.

"In addition, there appears to be less discounting than there was at this time last year."

At Waitrose, which is the grocery arm of the John Lewis Partnership, sales rose 16.6% as warnings of further snow prompted shoppers to stock up on goods which can be stored for longer.

Waitrose director Ailsa Emerson said: "The big freeze has brought out a new love of the freezer, helping drive total sales."