John Lewis hails "stunning" Easter week


Photo: John Lewis
Britain's biggest department store chain John Lewis said it enjoyed a "stunning" week's trade in the seven days to Easter Saturday as poor weather made shopping an attractive pursuit.

The employee-owned retailer said on Friday its sales jumped 27.5 percent year-on-year to 66.7 million pounds ($106.4 million) in the week to April 7.

"In comparison with the Good Friday week last year we delivered a stunning increase of 25 percent," the firm said.

"The vast majority of our branches delivered double-figure increases with the poorer weather at the end of the week driving customers into shops."

Sales in the electricals and home technology category soared 59.1 percent, reflecting demand for the new iPad and also for TVs ahead of London and the south of England's digital switchover.

Fashion sales were up 17.6 percent, while sales in the home category were up 16.3 percent.

John Lewis has been outperforming the wider retail market as its more affluent customers have been less impacted by the economic downturn.

"This was an excellent performance by John Lewis that lifts hopes that consumers may prove more robust than feared over the coming months and help the economy return to sustainable growth," said Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS Global Insight.

However, he did point out that the retailer's sales increase also reflects four more shops trading than a year ago and higher prices due to inflation.

Many UK retailers are still struggling as consumers grapple with inflation, muted wage growth and government austerity measures, and worry about job security and a stagnant housing market.

However, an industry survey on Wednesday said British retail sales rose at the fastest pace so far this year in March, adding to signs that the economy is slowly recovering.

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