Figures released today from Debenhams show it has bucked the trend across the high street with sales up by 3.9% in the 16 weeks to 23 June 2012.
The department store group attributes its sales growth ‘to meeting our customers’ needs, especially around key events when footfall has been at its highest’ such as Easter, Mother’s Day, the Diamond Jubilee and pay days/month-ends.
Additionally, the ongoing development of non-clothing categories such as home, beauty and accessories and home helped alleviate the impact of the cold, wet spring on seasonal clothing categories.
Online sales grew by 34.9% during the period and have increased by 40.2% year to date. Visitor numbers were also up by 40%. Debenhams says it is now the 11th biggest UK online retailer by traffic volume. Mobile continues to be the fastest growing channel, accounting for some 30% of website traffic.
For the Jubilee, the top five Union Jack products were vintage Union Jack bedding, normal Union Jack, Vintage flag throw, large Union Jack cushion and small Union Jack cushion, with nearly 50,000 Union Jack products sold to date.
Sales statistics highlights for Home include furniture home delivery up 72% and home decorative accessories (ornaments) up 108%.
Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp said he was comfortable with the market’s current expectations for reported profit before tax for the year as a whole.
He said: “We have continued to make good progress and I am particularly pleased with the like-for-like sales trends in the second half of the year. Looking forward, there is little sign of an imminent recovery in consumer confidence. Our focus for the remainder of this financial year and into next year will therefore be the remorseless execution of the four pillars of our strategy which we believe will bring success irrespective of the wider economy.”
During the period, nine modernisations – in Middlesborough, Preston, Harrow, Luton, Bournemouth, Colchester, Reading, and Harrogate – were completed, with Chester due to relaunch on July 6.
Work has started on nine more – Bedford, Carlisle, Sutton, Hull, Plymouth, Salisbury, Southend, Worthing and Hanley (Stoke on Trent) – and will be finished by the end of September.
The retailer’s flagship Oxford Street store is also going through a modernisation, both inside and out, which should be finished by October 2013.
A new 24,000sq ft store opened in Dumfries in May, taking the UK and Ireland portfolio to 165 stores. One further store has been added to the new store pipeline which stands at 14 stores expected to open over the next five years.