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John Lewis sales hit by snow

Sales at department store John Lewis fell by 17.1% to £37 million for the week ended February 7 after heavy snowfall deterred shoppers.

Fashion sales fell 16.8%, but within that the poor weather drove sales of gloves and scarves. John lewis said kidswear also performed well given the weather.

The snow storms last week brought much of the country to a virtual standstill disrupting trading patterns and hammering shoppers’ appetite to spend. John Lewis Direct, the department store’s internet site, saw sales rise 7% during the week, suggesting some shoppers opted to spend from the comfort of their own home. However this was a much slower rate of growth than in previous weeks.

John Lewis head of selling development Barry Matheson said: “With the snow easing on Saturday, sales rebounded to give us an increase for the day, and Sunday’s performance also suggests that we may pick up some, but by no means all, of last week’s lost trade.”

“Many branches reported taking the opportunity to really sharpen shopkeeping standards across the shops when trade was quiet,” added Matheson. “With the Home catalogue being delivered this week, I am sure we can look forward to the first half getting off to a proper start this week.”

Separately, The Sun reported that thousands of back office jobs could be under threat at John Lewis. The newspaper said that John Lewis had begun consulting with its partners over a new “Branch of the Future” restructuring programme. It could see admin and finance staff staff moved to the shop floor to improve customer service.

John Lewis is expected to release a statement this afternoon.

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