John Lewis had its highest occasionwear sales for four years in the week to May 7, helping fashion to provide the department store chain’s only bright spot as total sales fell by 3% excluding VAT.
In what was effectively the first genuine like-for-like week of its financial year, as the calendar returned to normal following the run of Bank Holidays, fashion sales were up by 4.9% driven by particularly strong sales in womenswear and kidswear.
Occasionwear was particulary strong with an ongoing ‘Pippa effect’ following the Royal Wedding. Buying director for fashion Susanne Given said: “Long flowing green and champagne-coloured dresses were sought after, delivering the highest sales for this [occasionwear] department in four years, which in part helped drive the increase for fashion.”
John Lewis also said that new high summer products in womenswear and kidswear sold well, with bright colours and strong prints being particularly popular.
Overall sales were down 3% excluding VAT, or 1.4% including VAT. Only three stores - Oxford Street, Aberdeen and Peter Jones - managed to increase takings, even with the benefit of higher VAT.