John Lewis and Next report Christmas sales increases

John Lews: Christmas 20011 TV ad
John Lews: Christmas 20011 TV ad

John Lewis and Next have increased total sales over Christmas after strong online performances, but Next has reported a "disappointing" drop in sales in its brick-and-mortar stores.

In a trading update, John Lewis reported an online sales jump of 27.9% year on year for the five weeks to 31 December, contributing to total sales of £596m.

Total sales rose 9.3% for the period, thanks partly to John Lewis opening one new full-line store in Westfield in Stratford and two John Lewis at Home stores in Tamworth and Chester.

John Lewis declined to reveal whether like-for-like sales in its brick-and mortar stores increased or decreased.

Andy Street, managing director at John Lewis, said: "Sales during the four weeks to Christmas Eve were outstanding.

"[Year-to-date] sales at broke through the £600m milestone during December and our click-and-collect operation, giving customers the flexibility of buying online and collecting from 129 John Lewis and Waitrose branches, continued operating right up to Christmas Eve in John Lewis and saw a 90% increase in usage."

Next posted "disappointing" store sales in today's (4 January) trading update on its performance for 1 August to 24 December, but reported that the performance was compensated by strong online sales.

Online sales on the Next Directory were up 16.9% year on year for the period, compared to a 2.7% sales fall for its retail stores.

As a result, Next posted a 3.1% increase in total sales for the period between 1 August and 24 December.

Next continued its tradition of waiting until Boxing Day before slashing the prices on its ranges, against a backdrop of extremely heavy discounting from rival retailers prior to Christmas.

Lord Wolfson, Next chief executive, said: "Despite a good final week before Christmas, November and December sales were disappointing, given that snow adversely impacted sales in 2010.

"A number of factors have subdued sales in the final quarter and it is hard to judge to what extent warm winter weather and higher levels of competitor discounting masked the deeper, longer-lasting, economic effects."

Next says it has increased stock by 10% this year for its end-of-season sale and adds that the sale "has gone well".

As a consequence, the retailer is forecasting full-year profits of £565m when it announces its profits on 25 March, which would represent a 4% increase compared to the previous year.

Follow Matthew Chapman at @mattchapmanUK

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