Following double digit growth over the Christmas period, John Lewis department stores continued their sluggish early year trading with sales falling last week.
Sales across the John Lewis Partnership grew 2.6 per cent in the seven days to January 22nd with Waitrose trading up a healthy 5.5 per cent year-on-year.
Department stores sales dropped a disappointing 2.2 per cent, with comparatives made tougher due to period coinciding with the end of January’s heavy snow last year, and only two stores of the group’s portfolio of 29 seeing sales rise.
Lesley Ballantyne, Director of Operational Development at John Lewis, said: “It was a quieter week for John Lewis but the comparisons against last year are difficult to read due to periods of heavy snowfall in the first week of January last year and the resulting uplift in trade over the following two weeks.
“Taking the week ending January 15th and the week ending January 22nd together provides a more realistic comparison with last year, and this gives an overall increase of one per cent.”
Only last week John Lewis Retail Operations Director Andrew Murphy called for the ‘industry bellwether’ tag to be removed from the high-flying partnership but with most other retailers struggling early in 2011, these results seem indicative of the current state of the industry.
John Lewis Direct continued its strong grow with sales up 21 per cent in the week compared to the same period last year but only the partnership’s Oxford Street and Poole bricks and mortar stores saw sales increases, of 1.9 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively.
Its High Wycombe store saw the weakest trade with sales down 18.8 per cent, closely followed by Liverpool with a decline of 17.8 per cent and Newcastle that experienced a drop of 17.6 per cent.
Ahead of full-year trading results, the partnership can still claim a fantastic 2010 but the signs seem to point to a tougher trading environment in the 12 months ahead.
Ballantyne added: “With just one week of the trading year left to trade, we will end the year with a strong double-digit increase to be proud of.
“We can go into the new financial year with the confidence that our service, products and selling environment will continue to inspire existing and new customers.”