John Lewis suffers blow in every department

Difficult week for John Lewis. Picture: Jon Savage
Difficult week for John Lewis. Picture: Jon Savage
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John Lewis department store group yesterday unveiled another difficult week for sales in the latest sign that a rainswept August proved a torrid month for Britain’s retailers.

The group’s sales for the week ending 29 August fell 3.4 per cent compared with last year, after falling 5.9 per cent the week before. They were 3 per cent down on the longer four-week period to 29 August.

It came as latest figures from accountancy firm BDO showed high street sales fell 4.3 per cent last month compared to 2014.

That was the biggest retail sector sales slide since November 2008 – at the height of the financial crisis. Among John Lewis’s results, its Scottish stores all registered double-digit falls in the week to 29 August.

Sales were down 17.1 per cent at its Aberdeen outlet, the Glasgow site was down 12.1 per cent, and Edinburgh was off 10.1 per cent.

Despite the setback, Paula Nickolds, buying and brand director for John Lewis, said prospects were looking better for this month.

“A tough trading period closed with another difficult week, but with definite signs in the run-up to the Bank Holiday weekend that there is plenty of pent-up demand for us to target in September,” Nickolds said.

John Lewis’s electricals and home technology sales slumped 9.3 per cent in the last week of August, while fashion sales were down 0.9 per cent and home sales 0.4 per cent lower.

Sales at the group’s flagship outlet in London’s Oxford Street fell 13.8 per cent. Freddie George, retail guru at broker Cantor Fitzgerald, said it was a key week for the sector “before the children go back to the school and a week when consumers start to shop for their autumn wardrobes”.

He added: “These figures are thus in our view very disappointing, probably impacted by consumers, particularly those based in the south, choosing to take holidays.”