John Lewis sales rescued by fashion strength
As the health of the UK department stores sector continues to be in the spotlight due to the ongoing difficulties at Debenhams and House of Fraser, the latest weekly sales figures from John Lewis partnership showed that the company is still in a fairly strong position compared to its peers, despite a slight sales dip this time.
The seven days to March 16 saw overall company sales falling 1.2% to £203.83 million. That figure included its Waitrose supermarkets and sales actually fell by a larger amount at the John Lewis department store chain itself.
But the 2.4% drop at the chain was largely the result of difficult comparisons because of the different timing of Mother's Day this year, and also the fact that the company price-matched a competitor event that was smaller than last year.
Fashion department sales were down 0.5% on the same week last year, due to the lower level of price-matching in Beauty and Nursery. However, it had a strong week in Menswear, with sales up 9.3%, and Womenswear sales were up 5.1%. The “mixed" weather drove sales of both knitwear and swimwear “as customers began to think about their summer holidays.”
That was all undeniably encouraging and helped to illustrate the fact that John Lewis really is justifying its heavy investment in fashion as its sales continue to prove stronger than many rivals.
But one area in which it’s falling behind is the Home department where sales have been struggling for some time. In the latest week, sales were down 3.2% but its Living Room campaign, which launched at the weekend “had a strong start.” It also saw strong sales of its new furniture collections including its recent collaboration with Swoon.
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