A 6.8 per cent year-on-year growth in sales at Waitrose last week, helped to push John Lewis Partnership sales into positive territory despite department stores still struggling.
Overall partnership sales grew just 2.8 per cent in the seven days to March 26th 2011 and department store sales fell back 3.8 per cent over the period after a brief recovery during the previous week.
Whilst John Lewis stores trade has been chopping since the new year, Waitrose has seen consistent growth in 2011 and even though recent comparables have been distorted by the changing dates of Easter and Mother’s Day, the supermarket has clearly been outstripping the other part of the business.
Online sales performed particularly well last week for the grocer, as it continues to develop its e-tail credentials separate from Ocado.
Tom Athron, Finance Director at Waitrose, said: “Ahead of Mothering Sunday, this week customers placed flower orders in good time, and online Mother’s Day orders from Waitrose.com went up more than 23 per cent year-on-year.
“Waitrose.com orders continued to grow and online grocery shops grew by over 31 per cent year-on-year.”
Chilled, fruit, vegetables and bakery goods were the best sellers, up 12 per cent compared to the same week last year, ambient goods sales rose 3.8 per cent, and trade in meat, fish, frozen & dairy items jumped 7.2 per cent year-on-year.
Poor trading at the partnership’s department stores was partly blamed on the warm spring weather keeping shoppers outside but it did not seem to affect Waitrose in the same way.
Athron added: “The first glimpse of summer and a fantastic new layout saw customers turn to the frozen aisles and ice cream sales warmed up by 22 per cent.
“Soft fruit, a favourite with ice cream, was once again one of the best performing categories: up 45 per cent. The real strength came from raspberries, which were up 86 per cent, strawberry sales went up by 51 per cent and blueberries rose by 27 per cent.”
Only two John Lewis stores, Aberdeen and Peter Jones, saw sales increase last week, 1.5 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively.
Fashion sales were hardest hit during the seven days, with trading down 7.6 per cent, as seasonal markdowns are impacting later in the year than they did in 2010.
Summing up the week’s performance, Buying Director for Home at John Lewis Paula Nickolds commented: “As we enter our third trading period, we clearly need to deliver our best possible results.
“There are lots of opportunities ahead from Mother’s Day, Easter and the royal wedding, and we should be confident that we can offer both the product and shopping experience to excite our customers during the crucial few weeks ahead.”