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By
Reuters
Published
May 9, 2010
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John Lewis sees election night boost at Waitrose

By
Reuters
Published
May 9, 2010


LONDON, May 7 (Reuters) - British department stores retailer John Lewis [JLP.UL] posted another week of stellar sales as shoppers kept spending despite a general election campaign focused on the prospect of tax rises and public sector cuts.

The employee-owned firm's upmarket grocery chain Waitrose also reported a surge in demand for entertainment foods for "swingometer soirees" as shoppers prepared for their general election viewing on May 6.

John Lewis, seen as a bellwether of the UK retail sector but which has been outperforming rivals over the last six months, said sales at its 28 department stores and one "at home" store increased 15.9 percent to 53.7 million pounds ($83.06 million).

"Of our branches, 25 beat 2009 figures, while 13 were ahead of sales achieved in 2008," the firm said.

John Lewis said its performance was driven by a 24.5 percent increase in fashion sales and an 18.1 percent rise in homewares. Sales in the electricals and home technology category were up 2.1 percent.

Britain's retailers are emerging from a deep recession but are divided whether the recovery will continue, with many wary that steps to cut government debt following Thursday 6 May's general election will damage consumer confidence. [nUKVOTES]

Tesco (TSCO.L), the country's biggest retailer, said last month the recovery had taken hold, while floor coverings chain Carpetright (CATVU.L) warned of a dip back into recession.

At the 228-store Waitrose chain, week to May 1 sales increased 11.2 percent to 96.3 million pounds, underscoring its status as one of the UK's fastest growing grocers. (Reporting by James Davey, editing by Mark Potter)

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