John Lewis Enjoys a Christmas Cracker

Posted on 19 December, 2012 by Kirsten Kennedy

With Christmas drawing ever closer, stores across the UK are in a festive frenzy to achieve the highest possible sales following four years of recession. Yet there are still concerns in the retail industry that economic pressure will see this year’s sales dampened due to lower disposable incomes in households, which has led to many big high street names slashing prices and offering promotions in a bid to hurry customers through the doors of their properties nationwide.

However, for department store John Lewis, there are no such concerns, as the past two consecutive weeks of trading have broken records for the highest takings on a weekly basis.

The popular department store chain saw an 11.1 per cent increase on last year’s sales for the week ending Saturday 15th December, taking the weekly sales total to a staggering £147.8 million.

With fears of a triple dip recession, many retailers were expecting something of a modest profit margin this year – yet with John Lewis breaking records during the festive season perhaps consumers are a little more confident than was initially forecast.

Online sales also skyrocketed, with the internet shopping site owned by the chain also beating its personal record last week. In only seven days, consumers racked up £43.1 million worth of purchases, shunning the likes of Amazon and eBay in favour of the more traditional retailer.

Sales decreased slightly from the previous week when they achieved a 15 per cent year on year jump. However, this is only to be expected as families attempt to prepare for Christmas early to avoid the last minute rush.

Yet economist Howard Archer believes that the economic pressures may be dampening the spirits of not the consumers but the retailers this Christmas – in turn causing sales to drop slightly as the day itself gets closer.

He says; “While John Lewis’s performance was relatively impressive, it is notable that sales growth was down from the previous week.

“This suggests that there is, so far at least, not a strong building up of momentum for retailers as Christmas spending heads towards its climax.”

However, head of selling operations for the department store chain, Maggie Porteous, believes that sales will pick up yet again in the week leading up to Christmas as last minute shoppers flood stores around the country.

She says; “It is excellent news to have already had two record weeks, both over £140 million for the first time.

“While some of our customers will have finished their gift buying, have their homes decorated and be prepared for guests, many are still set to shop during the final week and weekend, with a number leaving it right up until the last minute on December 24.”

Presents for women, such as fashion items, handbags and perfumes have proven immensely popular in the past two weeks, as have cosy winter essentials such as woolly jumpers and scarves. Formalwear sales have also jumped due to the large number of office parties in the weeks before Christmas.

John Lewis will launch its online sale at 5pm on Christmas Eve, and in store promotional events will start on December 27th.

Did you finish your Christmas shopping early or were you hoping to pick up some bargains in the week leading up to Christmas Day? Will you be heading to your nearest John Lewis store after Christmas or has the festive season taken a bite out of your budget?

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