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John Lewis boss warns of fragile high street

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Andy Street, Managing Director of John Lewis, has warned that the high-street is in a fragile state as fears of a double-dip recession affect consumer confidence.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Street pointed out that the stagnant nature of current retail sales highlight the tough economic conditions affecting consumer spending.

“I would describe the retail market as flat,” he said.

“At the moment it is no worse than that. But it is fragile. What we need over the next few weeks is to have no bad news.”

Street’s comments come after BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker found that August was the worst month for high-street shops in two years, as a 2.2 per cent overall decline was reported compared to the same period in 2010.

The company claimed that a fall in year-on-year trading in fashion, homewares and non-fashion items was a strong contributor to these disastrous figures.

It is hoped that this week’s opening of Westfield Stratford will boost sales for retailers, as a number of concept stores are set to open at the shopping centre.

Jewellery retailer Goldsmiths has announced the introduction of a new store concept at the east London shopping location.

Showcasing a “free flowing” contemporary showroom layout as well as providing iPad’s for shoppers to browse the full product range, “the boutique” is aimed at a younger market and hopes to improve customer interaction through digital in-store innovations.

John Lewis is also to open a store offering a more interactive customer experience, allowing visitors the opportunity to try out products prior to purchasing them, as well as receive support following the purchase of electrical products.

Speaking at the time of the announcement, Peter Ruis, Buying & Brand Director at John Lewis, welcomed the move.

“We are the UK’s destination for new technology and this change really reflects our ambition in the market,” he commented.

“John Lewis has long been famous for home and this new concept really pushes our contemporary credentials.”

Published on Monday 12 September by Editorial Assistant

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