WH Smith warns on tough festive trading as sales fall

Fears of a tough Christmas for retailers were fuelled by WH Smith yesterday as it revealed fresh pressure on sales of its books, stationery and sweets.

The high street bellwether said underlying sales, which exclude changes in store space, were down 6 per cent on a year ago in the 10 weeks since 1 September.

WH Smith said underlying sales at its airports, motorway and railway stores were down 4 per cent. At its high street stores, such sales fell 6 per cent.

WH Smith posted a rise in profits for the year to 31 August to £93m, despite falling underlying sales, as it focused on more profitable items such as books rather than CDs.