First snows have cooling effect on John Lewis

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Department store group John Lewis has blamed last week’s heavy snow for a slowdown in sales growth as its Scottish outlets enjoyed mixed fortunes.

The employee-owned retailer reported sales of £59.5 million for the week to 19 January, an increase of 6.7 per cent compared with the same period last year, but well below the 12.7 per cent growth seen during the previous week.

Simon Russell, director of retail operations development at John Lewis, said: “Underlying trade remained very strong, and we were up 15 per cent going into Friday. However, our

momentum chilled somewhat as the first significant fall of snow in almost a year hit Wales and much of England.”

The firm’s Glasgow store was its best performer, with sales up 9.2 per cent, but Aberdeen only managed a 0.7 per cent increase and sales at its Edinburgh branch were down 1 per cent.

Russell said demand for electricals and home technology products had been “stunning”, with continued strong sales of tablet computers, along with cameras and televisions.

Freddie George, retail analyst at Seymour Pierce, said: “So far in 2013, the underlying sales trend, even if affected by the snow in the last week, has been stronger than we might have expected pre-Christmas. It is too early, however, to call the green shoots of recovery.”