Belfast Telegraph

John Lewis sales wilt in the heat as Britons shun shops

John Lewis has blamed the hot weather for a fall in sales last week, with the department store saying Britons chose to enjoy the heatwave rather than head to the shops.

Figures for the week to July 23 show that sales dipped 4.3% compared with the same week last year.

"The hot weather which settled over the UK last week resulted in a slowdown in sales as Britain basked in the heatwave. The heatwave had a bigger impact on the fashion and home categories, which finished at minus 7% and minus 11.2% respectively as customers chose to make the most of the British summer.

"A dip in footfall meant that big ticket items had a slower week in home, and fashion numbers were dampened by a drop-off in schoolwear purchases as the summer holidays began."

John Lewis, considered a bellwether of consumer sentiment, took £73.3 million at the tills over the week.

Earlier this month, boss Andy Street warned that the plunge in sterling following Britain's decision to quit the EU could become a problem for the department store chain.

Mr Street said that although the firm is "fully hedged" against currency fluctuations for 2016/17, next year it could be an issue.

Since the referendum result, sterling has collapsed against both the dollar and the euro.

In the week following the referendum, John Lewis saw sales growth slow. But Mr Street denied it was anything to do with Brexit, saying it was more likely linked to an earlier start to its summer clearance sale and the weather.