Department store John Lewis saw sales decrease in 80 per cent of its established stores in the week ending October 22nd 2011, compared to the same period last year.
Reporting a total sales increase of four per cent, the retailer once again blamed disappointing figures on warm weather, but pointed out the positive growth on both cooling and heating products over the period as consumers responded to the changeable weather.
The retailer’s branch in Kent shopping centre Bluewater fared worst, reporting a 14.9 per cent fall on last year, while its Milton Keynes and Watford stores saw a 13.4 per cent and 13.3 per cent trading drop respectively.
All three buying directorates, fashion, electricals & home technology (EHT) and home were ahead of last year, with EHT seeing a 5.3 per cent rise, due to the growing popularity of computing and accessories complemented by solid figures from its new own-brand audio ranges.
Fashion saw a five per cent increase on the same period in 2010, thanks to strong sales in childrenswear and womenswear.
The retailer has said that it witnessed a growing demand for toys as parents sought to prepare for Christmas gifts early and spread the cost of their shopping. Interest in this category is likely to rise further this week, as the group’s flagship Oxford Street store launched a children’s floor offering toys and haberdashery ahead of the Christmas rush.
In its multichannel offering, the retailer’s website saw an increase of 21.8 per cent, a solid performance though down considerably from the previous week’s 36 per cent jump. With so many stores showing an annual decline in sales, it is clear that John Lewis’s online platform is currently driving overall sales growth at the business.
Ed Connolly, Buying Director of EHT at John Lewis, admitted that this week sees tough sales comparisons with last year.
“Big numbers against us this week must provide impetus for us to really go after every sale,” he said.
“It’s half term week so we must capitalise on our biggest opportunity yet to capture sales and really build momentum towards peak.”