Retailers that held their nerve on discounting this Christmas reaped the rewards, with chains planning to retain the strategy for the year ahead.
Joules’ sales grew 24.5% over the nine weeks to January 5 as like-for-likes increased 16.2%. Margins were boosted by fewer promotions and a later start to the end-of-season Sale on December 24, compared with December 19 last year.
Fat Face maintained its full-price stance prior to Christmas with its Sale starting on Boxing Day. Chief executive Anthony Thompson said the trading period was “record breaking”, with sales for the five weeks to January 4 up 5%.
Next, which stuck to its policy to start its Sale on Boxing Day, increased its full-year profit guidance following an 11.9% rise in total sales during the fourth quarter. Total stock for the company’s end-of-season Sale was down 11.5% on last year.
Jersey department store Voisins offered its annual pre-Christmas discount event on November 28, with the store growing like-for-likes 7% over the five-week period, according to managing director David Elliott.
John Lewis and House of Fraser both reported record-breaking Christmases, with online accounting for nearly a third of sales at John Lewis. Total sales rose 7.2% to £734m for the five weeks to December 28.
However, those retailers with a selection of seasonal Sales were left looking like Christmas turkeys.
Debenhams issued a profit warning last week after like-for-likes stagnated at 0.1% in the 17 weeks to December 28, with clothing the “weaker” performing category.
Marks & Spencer, which held various promotions in the Christmas run-up including a 30%-off Flash Sale, reported a fall in general merchandise. The retailer saw like-for-likes at its clothing arm decline by 2.1% in the 13 weeks to December 28, the 10th consecutive quarter that division has seen a drop.