Sports clothing and equipment retailer JD Sports has today reported a decline in sales growth since the end of the summer due to growing consumer worries.
In the first seven weeks of its second-half period the trader reported a 3.3 per cent rise in like-for-like (LFL) sales across its group operations but in the 16 weeks ending November 19th 2011 LFL growth has shrunk to just 0.2 per cent year-on-year.
Along with squeezed personal finances in the UK affecting its core business, its Champion stores in Ireland, purchased earlier this year, have been similarly hit by the dire economic conditions in that country, and the retailer is bracing itself for a difficult Christmas.
Over the 16 weeks sports fascias have seen LFL sales drop 0.1 per cent while fashion LFL sales rose just 1.3 per cent compared to the same period last year, however once the VAT rise of the start of the year is factored in, these figures drop to -1.6 per cent and -0.9 per cent respectively and an overall trading drop of 1.5 per cent.
A statement from JD Sports read: “Performance since September 17th has been impacted by the continuing downward pressures on all elements of discretionary consumer spending and the recent marked decline in consumer confidence.
“Despite experiencing adverse pressure on margins because of the trading environment, we continue to work hard to maintain them. Although we anticipate a tough Christmas trading period, our management and staff have a good track record for mobilising effectively through this key time of the year.”
The end of the summer and beginning of autumn had provided a boost to the retailer after tough trading during June and July, with comparisons affected by the FIFA World Cup trading boost of 2010, but this seems to have been short-lived with youth unemployment rising above one million and inflation hitting record levels in recent months.
Despite these challenges JD Sports has continued to invest in international expansion over the period with two stores opening in France and following the acquisition of the Sprinter business in Spain this year, the firm is on course to open its inaugural branded outlet in the country in the first half of 2012.
Its statement continued: “The result for the full year remains, as usual, substantially dependant on the performance through the Christmas period. However, at this stage the board believes the group remains on course to deliver earnings in line with current expectations.”