The build-up to Easter and the royal wedding helped push up sales at both John Lewis and Waitrose in the week to April 16th, with overall sales for the partnership rising 7.1 per cent year-on-year.
Sales for both retailers combined reached £153.73 million, with overall trading at the grocer and department store group up 8.6 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively.
Waitrose Finance Director Tom Athron said that sales patterns for the week indicated that many families had started preparing for forthcoming celebrations by purchasing baking ingredients, with home baking ingredients flying off the shelves at a much faster rate than the same period last year.
Within this category, sales of cake coverings & decorations rose 50 per cent, flour jumped 40 per cent and cake mixes saw a massive 135 per cent rise.
But it wasn’t just Easter food that consumers opted to stock up on.
It is currently impossible to avoid talk of the upcoming nuptials between Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29th, and shoppers appear to be getting prepared to celebrate the wedding by holding parties and purchasing commemorative merchandise.
Athron commented: “A surprising star performer has been our royal gingerbread bride and groom.
“Customers have snapped up the chance to celebrate the event with their very own royal couple, and our buyers have had to order in extra stock to ensure our customers aren’t disappointed.”
John Lewis sales have stuttered since the start of 2011, and Head of Multichannel at the retailer Simon Russell admits that with Easter coming late this year, it will still be some time before the company “can take a proper read of trade”.
Sales of big ticket home merchandise were down on previous weeks, but a solid performance by fashion and electrical & home technology, as well as a 23 per cent increase in IT trading, ensured John Lewis sales rose year-on-year and week-on-week.
Johnlewis.com posted impressive annual sales growth of 30 per cent, and despite struggles of out-of-town department stores like Southampton and Cribbs Causeway department store sales crept ahead of the corresponding week last year.
Russell remarked: “The next few weeks will be key as we enter the busier holiday period and we have a great opportunity to capitalise on the extra footfall that will inevitably come.”