Comment: Mother’s Day and new iPad launch drive record sales at John Lewis
Demand for Apple’s latest iPad and gifts for Mother’s Day helped department store chain John Lewis celebrate a record-breaking sales result last week.
Figures yesterday showed that overall revenues rose 20.9 per cent on a year earlier to £63.1 million for the seven days to last Saturday, a weekly tally never before seen for March trading.
Each of the partnership’s three Scottish stores, which have experienced mixed trading in recent months, posted gains. Aberdeen saw the strongest rise, with sales up 7.7 per cent year-on-year. Edinburgh gained 7.1 per cent while takings at the Glasgow branch were up by 5.6 per cent.
The iPad’s launch-day popularity helped boost the chain’s electricals and home technology sales by 53 per cent on last year.
John Lewis said months of work went in to securing a healthy amount of iPad3 stock for the launch, at a time when worldwide sales of the device reached three million over last weekend. The much-anticipated release shared a weekend with Mother’s Day, which ushered in a doubling in gift food trade, and a 50 per cent surge in premium gift sales, led by the Cath Kidston range.
Waitrose, the supermarket arm of the John Lewis Partnership, also boasted robust sales, up 12 per cent on a year earlier to £108.9m.
The jump was buoyed by a surge in sales of chickens as shoppers bought ingredients for the chain’s recipe of the week, chef Delia Smith’s roast chicken with lemon and thyme.
Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, the forecasting group, said the figures provided some optimism for British retailers.
He said: “The robust John Lewis sales for the past couple of weeks boost hopes that consumers are perking up, having apparently taken a breather in February after decent discount-fuelled spending over December and early January.
“The strength of consumer spending has a major role to play in the economy’s recovery prospects. The concern is that consumers still face challenging conditions overall that threaten to limit their spending in the near term at least.”
Paula Nickolds, a buying director at John Lewis, said: “Trading focus should now turn to the opportunity of Easter as shops begin preparing for the customer events weekend.”
On Thursday, two of Britain’s biggest retailers, B&Q-owner Kingfisher and fashion chain Next, said conditions for consumers were likely to slowly improve this year, though official data showed UK retail sales eased in February.
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