Happy Christmas for John Lewis as web sales soar 21%
Department store John Lewis posted a leap in festive trading figures as surging sales online offset falls across its stores.
While there are no John Lewis branches in Northern Ireland, it is understood the province's enthusiasm for the chain's merchandise contributed to a 21.4% increase in online sales UK-wide.
The retailer saw like-for-like sales climb 5.1% in the six weeks to January 2, but it relied on the jump in online trade to make up for a drop in store sales of 1.2%.
The business also revealed "challenging" trading at its Waitrose supermarket arm, which suffered a 1.4% fall in like-for-like sales excluding fuel over the six-week period.
Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: "This has been a strong Christmas trading period for the partnership despite the non-food market seeing significant shifts in trade patterns and the grocery market continuing to be challenging."
The employee-owned company, which runs 46 John Lewis stores across the UK, shrugged off the unusually mild December weather as it hailed "impressive" trading across fashion, home and technology.
This comes despite fears sparked for clothing retailers on Tuesday after Next posted a shock fall in its store sales and a sharp slowdown in its Directory catalogue and online arm, blaming the mild conditions in November and December.
John Lewis said the number of shoppers on the high street was lower this year as consumers continued to shift online, with trading through its website making up 40% of all sales in the six-week festive season. Its customers in Northern Ireland can pick up merchandise at Collect+ shops - a network of small retailers which serve as pick-up points for online businesses.
But John Lewis saw shopper footfall pick up in the clearance sales, helping department store sales rise an impressive 23% in the week to January 2.
Results for the Waitrose arm of the business confirmed the tough conditions in the supermarket sector as grocers battle amid a ferocious price war and the might of discounters.
The group said trading came late for the Waitrose chain, peaking with record trade across December 23 and 24, while online sales rose by 7.9% over the six-week period.
John Lewis added that its overall festive performance had kept it on track with full-year profit expectations for between £270m and £320m.