Mixed Christmas fortunes for retail

 

Christmas has emerged as a divisive season for the retail sector, with some players turning in a better-than-expected performance - while others moved closer to the edge.

A "dazzling" week before Christmas helped like-for-like sales rise 2.2% in the crucial month, their strongest since January, according to a key survey by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG.

High street bellwether Marks & Spencer reported robust sales over the festive season with its food department compensating for weaker growth in clothing and home, while Debenhams also reported a surge in trade in the final week before Christmas.

But at the other end of the spectrum, outdoor clothing group Blacks Leisure and lingerie chain La Senza were bought out of administration after weeks of dire trade and video games retailer Game warned it will breach a banking agreement after sales plunged.

There had been fears that the retail sector was heading for one of its worst Christmas trading periods to date, but upbeat statements from the likes of department store John Lewis have offered some balance to the bleaker outlook at chains such as HMV.

The BRC survey said sales of clothing and footwear had "a pretty spectacular month" following dire trading in the autumn's mild weather while food sales enjoyed their strongest growth for a year on the back of special offers.

But big-ticket items, including furniture and TVs, continued to suffer in December amid weak consumer confidence.

However, the upbeat figures will not ease fears over the struggling sector's future.

Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, said: "Sadly, no-one expects this level of demand to be indicative of the year ahead."

M&S saw like-for-like food sales increase 3% in the 13 weeks to December 31, against City expectations of a 1.5% increase, as it pulled in customers with promotions and 600 new product lines.

But the company saw general merchandise sales drop 1.8% on a like-for-like basis as its decision to pull technology products from its shelves hit home sales.

Game was the major high street casualty of the day after the video game retailer warned it would breach a banking covenant - a promise made to creditors to secure a loan - if current market conditions continue.

The group recorded a 12.9% decline in like-for-like sales in the eight weeks to January 7 and a 10% drop in the 49 weeks to January 7, as a "double whammy" of a lack of new consoles and a squeeze in consumer spending hit the business and wider market.

But Game chief executive Ian Shepherd remained confident. He said: "It's a cyclical industry. It will return to growth as new consoles come to the market.

"I'm very confident that the games industry is here to stay. We've got to be realistic - we're at a low point in the cycle that doesn't mean there's not plenty of future growth left."

PA

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
News
news

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
music
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
books

Review: Witty banalities aside, the comedian has an authentic voice

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £Competitive: SThree: SThree Group and have be...

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London