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John Lewis suffers weekly sales fall

Sales at department store chain John Lewis went into reverse last week but the retailer said its full-year performance would be strong.

Turnover at John Lewis fell 2.2% to £50m in the period to January 22, but the retailer said comparisons against last year are difficult to make because of snow in January 2010 and the uplift in trading that followed. John Lewis reported that fashion sales fell 3% over the week. Online sales climbed 21%.

“Taking the week ending January 15 and the week ending January 22 together provides a more realistic comparison with last year and gives an overall increase of 1%,” said operational development director Lesley Ballantyne.

He said: “With just one week of the trading year left to trade, we will end the year with a strong double-digit increase to be proud of.

“We go into the new financial year with the confidence that our service, products and selling environment will continue to inspire existing and new customers.”

Singer analyst Matthew McEachran estimated that over the numbers over the two-week period suggested as representative by John Lewis were equivalent to a like-for-like sales fall, excluding VAT, of about 3%. He observed: “Of the 29 branches open a year ago, just two saw sales increase.”

Seymour Pierce analyst Freddie George said: “Last week was always going to be a tough week for retailers because of relatively difficult comparatives. The week we are in will give a clearer picture of the real trends in consumer spending.”

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