Online surge sees a record Christmas at Debenhams

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The Independent Online

Debenhams has become the latest of the big department store chains to post record Christmas sales, boosted by a surge in online revenues.

However, shares in the company fell after it admitted that profit margins had been dented by more promotional activity in the run-up to Christmas and higher distribution costs due to strong internet sales.

The high street stalwart delivered a 5 per cent leap in sales at stores open more than a year over the five weeks to 5 January, helped by demand for clothing featured in its first Christmas television advertising campaign for six years. A women's red coat from Saunders enjoyed a 400 per cent uplift on the day the commercials first aired to become Debenhams best-ever selling coat.

Debenhams' figures mirrored strong trading from rivals House of Fraser and John Lewis, although the latter was the best performer with like-for-like sales up by 13 per cent over Christmas. The trio have benefited in recent years from being one-stop shops and booming online sales, including consumers picking up products ordered on the web in stores.

The shares fell by 9p to 108.1p.