Sunday, March 3, 2013

Half-term and cold weather drives John Lewis sales up 17%

Sales at department store John Lewis rocketed 17.2% to £63.3m in the week to February 23, as half-term and cold weather helped to boost performance.

Across the first four weeks of the new financial year, sales were up by “an impressive” 16.8%.

All stores reported an uplift last week, with Nottingham rising 27%, Liverpool 25% and Trafford 26%.

John Lewis relaunched its website in the week, and managed a 20% sales uplift “despite the transition”.

Simon Russell, director, retail operations development, at John Lewis said the relaunch is a “significant milestone and a result of many months of planning and hard work by the IT and online selling teams”.

Electricals again drove overall sales, soaring 33% on last year. Vacuum cleaners, heating and tablets were the standout areas.

Home sales were up 10%, with furniture, accessories and textiles all up double-digit. Seasonal lines were “particularly strong”, with sales of Mother’s Day gifts increasing 87% and Easter ranges rising 20%.

Fashion sales also increased by 10% as the cold weather drove demand in knitwear, while new-season stock including own-brands John Lewis & Co and Kin were “strong” in menswear.

Half-term “stimulated interest in childrenswear”.

Russell added: “Mother’s Day and Easter are the key season’s focus for the next few weeks. We have some great products and are well set to continue our good start to 2013.”

Waitrose, sister retailer of John Lewis, enjoyed a 9.4% sales rise (excluding petrol) to £110.5m, with goods for cooked breakfasts and potatoes for “warming dinners” performing well in the cold weather.

Soup was among the top-performing categories, and the upmarket grocer sold 25% more pairs of tights and 38% more pairs of socks.

However, spring was also in the air last week, as sales of British daffodils increased 50%.

Online sales “continued to be strong”, rising 42%. The retailer will open its first drive-through in Cheltenham in March, followed by services in branches in Southend, Salisbury, Wolverhampton and Lincoln. Shoppers will be able to order groceries online at and pick them up from a collection area in the branch car park in designated time slots.

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