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.