John Lewis managing director Andy Street reported “solid” sales growth of 6.9% to £65.3m last week as tough comparatives checked the double-digit growth enjoyed during much of 2013.
Street said strong comparatives last year meant “headline sales growth has slowed just a little from the cracking pace we set at the beginning of the year”.
Fashion sales rose 7.6% as childrenswear proved popular while interest in sewing sparked by the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee TV show propelled haberdashery sales to its best ever summer week outside its clearance Sale.
Furniture sales were strong as home sales rose 5.6%. Street said electricals and home technology was “a touch more subdued than of late with continuing excellence in IT and electricals held back by the comparisons with the peak of the digital switchover from last year”.
Technology sales rose 7.2% year on year in the week to April 13.
Street added: “For Johnlewis.com the April 2012 surge proved tough to beat, but encouragingly the new website continues to bed down, and outstanding mobile trade helped the channel to 5% overall. Within that, click-and-collect continues to thrive, and it was good to see our new facility with Collect+ step up another gear.”
John Lewis’ Oxford Street, Liverpool and Poole stores all performed strongly with Watford the laggard.
Sister grocer Waitrose enjoyed a strong week with sales up 24.6% to £115.4m as the fall of Easter and school holidays combined with a trading performance “well above our expectations”, Waitrose personnel director Helen Hyde said.
Hyde added: “The weekend was the hottest of the year so far for much of the country, which prompted a move towards warmer weather eating habits.”
Fresh produce sales rose as shoppers began to switch to summer products. Sales of exotic fruit rose 41%. Its garden toys category enjoyed growth of 69% year on year.
“But – as a reminder that summer isn’t quite here yet – we also sold 39% more tea, 49% more biscuits, and 200% more umbrellas and rain macs,” Hyde said.