John Lewis weekly sales figures for last week (to June 1) rose 8.4% to £67.64m, with both shops and jl.com making solid progress.
But a number of factors make it difficult to draw any clear comparisons, according to John Lewis director of retail services Barry Matheson. He said: “The bank holiday was a week earlier than last year when it was delayed to form the Jubilee celebration – and we are up against that two-day holiday this week.
“Weather was also a factor, with a cool, damp half-term week providing ideal shopping conditions, although trade did tail off a bit on Saturday. Finally, we were price matching against a competitor for four days compared with two days last year – which gave us an advantage into the weekend. Taking all that into account, I think we can be cautiously satisfied with our performance.”
For Home, trade was more difficult as the department store group significantly benefited from both Jubilee and Olympics merchandise last year. A shift in demand for Outdoor Living was partly offset by good trade in core furnishings.
Shop scores were influenced by the shift in bank holiday. This particularly benefited ‘at home’ shops, which were significantly up on a like-for-like basis. Within this, Swindon was the most eye-catching score, Barry said, closely followed by Chester. For the full-line shops, the strongest trade was across the Midlands and North with Milton Keynes leading the way, and Leicester very close behind.
Barry concluded: “We will need to get to the end of this week to see how we have compared over the full Jubilee period. Then Clearance will, as always, provide a great opportunity to cement our reputation for outstanding value and great service. Extracting maximum value from that is where attention now shifts.”