John Lewis sales get holiday boost

John Lewis Partnership today said its UK department store sales jumped 30% after a “remarkable” week of trading over the Easter holiday.

John Lewis Partnership today said its UK department store sales jumped 30% after a “remarkable” week of trading over the Easter holiday.

The haul of £59m (€67.6m) was also 21% higher than the equivalent Easter period in 2009, reflecting strong growth across all major departments.

Its sales cheer follows yesterday’s better-than-expected fourth quarter trading figures from fellow retail bellwether Marks & Spencer, which suggests consumer spending is so far holding up well.

Jill Little, merchandise director, described last week’s figures as a “remarkable result” and said JL was hopeful it will maintain its good run.

She added: “This week we will continue to see the impact of Easter on sales and better weather should drive sales of new season fashions and outdoor living.

“We now have news of the general election, but it remains to be seen whether this will have an impact on consumer confidence.”

John Lewis sales in the week to last Saturday were boosted by a 24% rise for its home offering, 22% for fashion and 19% for electronics and home entertainment.

Tea sets and cake plates were in demand thanks to a recent marketing campaign, while in fashion, the poor weather drove better-than-expected sales of coats and jumpers.

Its best performing stores were at the Bluewater and Trafford shopping centres, where sales rose 46.3% and 45.4% respectively, although shoppers also went online, sending sales at up by 57.1%.

John Lewis Partnership’s Waitrose supermarket arm also enjoyed buoyant trading last week, with the “Delia effect” sending sales of food in its advertising campaign featuring Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal soaring.

Grape sales surged by 330% and chicken by 65% thanks to Delia’s recommended roast chicken dish with grapes and tarragon.

The chain bagged a 34.4% increase in total sales during the week, to £109m (€125m) – up 12.8% when compared with Easter week in 2009.

Economist Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight said the group’s figures gave hope for consumer spending in 2010.

“Even allowing for the Easter impact, the John Lewis sales figures are hugely impressive and it would be nice to think the consumer is really coming to life and set to give the UK economy a decent boost,” he said.

“However, we suspect that it is more the case that after enduring an extended tough period, consumers are particularly keen to enjoy holiday periods and times like Easter.”

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