Strong spring fashions sales helped John Lewis stores record their best trading of the year so far last week, results published today reveal.
Fashion saw a huge 16 per cent rise in trading compared to last year for the week ending April 2nd 2011 but total John Lewis Partnership sales actually fell 2.1 per cent largely due to Waitrose sales falling 4.9 per cent year-on-year.
Figures for the supermarket arm of the partnership were heavily distorted due to the later date of Easter, whereas its department stores sales grew 3.1 per cent compared to last year and were 12 per cent up on last week.
Despite this pick-up in trading only four of the group’s 29 established stores, Oxford Street, Peter Jones, Welwyn and Brent Cross, saw sales improve year-on-year over the seven days.
Dino Rocos, Operations Director at John Lewis, commented: “The combination of Mother’s Day, price matching competitor activity and better spring weather gave sales a real boost.
“Sales during the week continued to grow with price matching activity leading to a strong close on Saturday. The Online team also had a strong week with all three directorates performing strongly, however, Fashion stood out closing at +82 per cent on last year.”
John Lewis stores have been struggling since the new year and so the partnership will hope it can build on last week’s momentum, but trading remained weak across much of the group.
Some stores had torrid weeks, with the partnership’s Poole store seeing sales drop by 33.5 per cent year-on-year whilst Cribbs Causeway trading fell by 13.7 per cent.
Aside from Fashion, all other categories at John Lewis stores saw trading decline with electricals & home technology product sales down 4.9 per cent and home products dropping 2.6 per cent compared to last year.
Rocos added: “The uplift in demand, supported by strong seasonal products, good availability, and indeed strong marketing activity, led to the best week of the half to date.
“Looking ahead, this week provides us with an opportunity to build on this success and capitalise on the later Easter and school holidays that will run into the royal wedding and May bank holiday.”
Waitrose trading was weak but made to look worse by the fact that last week last year was the lead up to Easter, traditionally one of the busiest periods for the grocer.
If compared to the week leading up to Mother’s Day last year, sales last week were actually 10.5 per cent ahead.
David Jones, Supply Chain Director for Waitrose, said: “Mother’s Day purchases were a strong driver of sales last week, with sales of gifts and confectionery up by 16.5 per cent on the same time last year, gift wrap by 38 per cent and horticulture by 26.5 per cent. Within horticulture, plant sales were up by 48 per cent and bouquets by 58 per cent.”