Online and home shopping retailer Shop Direct Group said today that its internet business spurred trading over the recent Christmas period, but warned of tougher times ahead for the UK retail industry.
The owner of brands such as Very.co.uk and Littlewoods.com said total sales excluding VAT were up nine per cent year-on-year for the six weeks to December 31st 2011, with online revenues up 20 per cent and representing 74 per cent of all sales during that time. Like-for-like sales were not published.
In a statement today, Shop Direct said trading in tablets and laptops was up 87 per cent compared to the previous year, while its clothing & footwear and electricals categories both grew in line with the headline sales figure.
As is traditional at Christmas, toys and gaming products proved popular, with over 1.2 million units sold by the group in total.
Shop Direct Group CEO Mark Newton-Jones said: “This Christmas was all about online sales. Customers chose to shop at a time and place to suit them and increasingly used tablets and smartphones to browse and complete their orders.
“Whilst we are pleased with our strong Christmas performance, the pattern of trading in the autumn/winter season suggests that many customers deferred purchases until the peak Christmas period.
“Therefore, this level of sales is not representative of 2011 as a whole or what we expect to see in 2012.
“With the festive season now behind us, we believe the retail outlook for 2012 will remain subdued. Indeed, we expect it to deteriorate further as consumers continue to tighten their belts. As a result, we are forecasting lower overall sales for 2012.”
Shop Direct has been predicting a tough 2012 for some time, and recently announced that it would be looking at growth from international markets in the 12 months ahead.
Last November, the group launched its fashion brand Very in 49 countries across Europe and North America, with a primary focus on Canada and the US.
Following the success of luxury brands such as Burberry, Mulberry and Ted Baker, Very is hoping to tap into the growing popularity of British fashion among international audiences.