Continuing its recent uneven period of trading, John Lewis Partnership sales recovered last week to rise 5.5 per cent, according to results released today.
Department store sales were down year-on-year in the previous but in the seven days to March 19th trading improved in these outlets 1.4 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Waitrose continued to perform much better than the other half of the business during the period however, with sales up 7.8 per cent.
The variable dates of Easter and Mother’s Day always confuse year-on-year comparisons over this period but even so John Lewis stores’ performance seems to be indicative of the wider difficult trading environment.
Robbie Feather, Buying Director of Electricals, Home & Technology (EHT) at John Lewis, said: “Last week saw sales up on last year, with Mother’s Day and Easter phasing making clear comparisons hard.
“The pattern of trade definitely benefited the early part of the week, with a notable drop off on Saturday when the sun shone and spring finally appeared to have arrived.”
In the week to March 12th no department store in the partnership saw year-on-year sales rise, but last week four stores managed it, Cambridge, Nottingham, Solihull and Watford – the latter seeing the most growth of 2.2 per cent.
EHT was the best performing department up 4.4 per cent, whilst fashion sales crept up 0.8 per cent and homewares trading improved just 0.2 per cent year-on-year.
Feather added: “Looking forward to the next few weeks, our year-on-year comparatives will continue to mislead as we annualise against an early Easter.
“That said, our sales will increase steadily from here and we’re well placed to take advantage of spring as sales now build towards Mother’s Day, Easter and the royal wedding beyond.”
At Waitrose chilled, fruit, vegetables & horticulture and bakery products were the star performers up 9.3 per cent during the week, whilst sales of meat, fish, frozen and dairy items rose nine per cent and ambient goods trade increased 6.3 per cent.