Department store sales were still muted going into the second month of 2011 at the John Lewis Partnership, but Waitrose continued its strong recent trading.
Across the partnership sales increased 6.7 per cent in the week ending February 5th compared to last year, but John Lewis store trading improved only 1.2 per cent year-on-year.
Waitrose sales soared in comparison, rising 9.8 per cent for the week, making a fairly solid start overall to the company’s financial year.
Nat Wakely, Selling Operation A at John Lewis, said that it was a “pleasing start to our new financial year with an increase over 2010 to kick us off.”
“Admittedly not a large one at +1 per cent, but in positive territory nevertheless and in a month that can always be tricky to predict, as small sterling changes can look far larger in percentage terms in a quiet month for retailing.”
In the previous week only four of the partnership’s department stores saw sales increase year-on-year and despite positive overall sales growth across all stores this actually got worse last week with only Peter Jones Trafford and Liverpool in positive territory.
Its Southampton outlet experienced the biggest drop in sales year-on-year, with trading down 15.6 per cent, whilst the Newcastle branch also had a double digit sales fall of 11.4 per cent.
Analysts at Espirito Santo commented that last week’s performance was “an improvement on the negative sales growth that we have seen for the last couple of weeks, but is still a subdued figure relative to what we are used to from the company.”
Fashion sales were flat at John Lewis stores last week, home sales improved 1.2 per cent, whilst electricals and home technology was the best performing segment up 2.3 per cent.
Growth in online trading at Johnlewis.com was more declined from last week but was still strong at 16.7 per cent higher than the same period in 2010.
Trading at the partnership’s grocery arm was boosted by the Chinese New Year, and early purchasing for Easter.
Waitrose’s best selling items included mixed planting bulbs which experienced a 155 per cent increase, its dim sum selection which was up 128 per cent and haddock loins which rose 520 per cent year-on-year.