John Lewis reported another tough week, with sales only edging into positive territory thanks to the VAT rise, and all but two stores recording a decrease in sales.
Total sales in the week to February 12 were up 1.4% including VAT, down 0.5% if VAT is taken out.
Fashion sales rose 1.8% with own-brand womenswear and new fashion brands proving a success. Men’s formalwear rose 27 per cent, helped by good-value men’s suiting. Kidswear sales jumped 8.6 per cent.
Six stores recorded double digit declines, with Peter Jones and Cambridge the only branches managing sales growth even with VAT included. Online sales grew 31.9% including VAT with womenswear and kidswear strong and new brands and new stock proving an “immediate hit”. Click & Collect proved “very popular”.
Operational development director Lesley Ballantyne said the performance was pleasing against tough comparisons affected by the timing of Valentine’s Day last year, and that this week should have been helped by an extra day of Valentine’s sales.