John Lewis reports sales drop

John Lewis Partnership today said UK department store sales fell sharply last week after several days of financial turmoil knocked confidence.

The group said sales fell 5.6% to £47.34m (€59m) across its 27 department stores and the firm’s online operation johnlewis.com.

Retail operations director Patrick Lewis said comparisons with strong trading a year earlier, the distraction of warmer weather and uncertainty in the financial markets “all added up to a much tougher week”.

Its home division continued to suffer amid the housing market slowdown, with sales diving by 14% in the week to September 20.

John Lewis said the late summer, which contrasted with the cold seen last September, saw shoppers stay away from stores.

The sales slide followed a 7.5% hike the previous week amid the back-to-school rush, which had boosted fashion trade by nearly 21%.

But last week’s news of major banking woes – including the collapse of Lehman Brothers and rescue of UK bank HBOS – left sales “well below” last year, confirmed John Lewis.

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