John Lewis enjoyed a strong start to the September trading period, with sales in the week to September 1 up 15.3% to £70.51m.
The department store group said “the first signs of autumn seem to drive strong footfall into our shops, not least a significant ‘back to school’ week. Trading was particularly buoyant over the first weekend, including the bank holiday Monday”.
In the shops, three of the more established ‘John Lewis at home’ branches led the way with Poole, Croydon and Swindon all in excess of 20%, and reporting strong bank holiday business, with ‘back to university’ also driving good footfall.
Of the full-line department stores, Southampton and Reading posted top scores.
For products, technology, ‘back to school’ and new concepts were the stand-out themes, with sales of tablets, white goods and small electrical products particularly strong.
John Lewis head of operational support Chris Hooper added that “there was much excitement with the introduction of product as part of ‘House by John Lewis’.
This is a reference to a new own brand range of homeware which is aimed at young, urban professionals furnishing their first home. The collection is being marketed as ‘well thought-out, well-made and surprisingly affordable’. It covers all the home categories from furniture, textiles and lighting to cooking and dining accessories.
“The Home team will be pleased with the early response to this ‘modern and uncluttered’ range even pre-official launch.” Chris Hooper said.
Chris Hooper also noted that shop scores were “once again supported by a significant upward shift in performance at jl.com, in excess of 36%- a great combination of positive results for the division as a whole”.
Meanwhile at sister supermarket chain Waitrose, sales in the same week were up 6.4% to £105.41m as families prepared for the return to school, college or work by stocking up their cupboards, freezers and lunchboxes.
Quick and easy staples such as pasta, mince and meatballs were all in high demand. Frozen pizzas enjoyed a 14% surge in sales with customers also purchasing 11% more frozen vegetables. Lunchbox favourites like crisps and apples also saw a spike in sales.