• Like-for-likes fell 1.1% but taking into account cannibalisation of new stores, like-for-likes were flat
  • Furniture and sports drive sales but electrical goods decline
  • Online sales represent 51% of sales, up from 46% last year

Argos like-for-likes fell 1.1% in the eight weeks to February 27, hampered by declining sales of electricals.

However, taking into account the cannibalisation of new stores, like-for-likes were broadly flat, parent Home Retail said.

The 1.1% fall is an improvement on the year, when like-for-likes were down 2.6%.

Furniture and sports sales were up while electricals declined in the period, particularly across video gaming, tablets and white goods. Mobiles “continued to deliver good levels of growth”.

Home Retail said it expects group benchmark pre-tax profit for the full year to be in line with the current consensus of market expectations of £93m.

Home Retail boss John Walden noted it had been “another rather eventful period” for the retailer, referring to the group’s sale of Homebase to Wesfarmers, as well as interest in the remaining group from both Sainsbury’s and Steinhoff International.

Total sales at Argos increased by 1.9% to £515m in the eight-week period.

Online sales were up 13% and now represent 51% of sales, up from 46% last year. M-commerce sales increased 15% and now represent 28% of total Argos sales, up from 25% in the prior year.

Argos’ gross margin was up approximately 75 basis points in the eight-week period but down 50 basis points over the year.

Homebase like-for-likes were up 3.3% and up 5.2% over the year. Full-year revenue was down 3.1% to £1.43bn.

Walden added: “I am pleased with the continued improvement in Argos’ sales performance in the period, together with the continued progress in the Argos Transformation Plan to become a digital retail leader.

“In October we introduced FastTrack – market-leading propositions for same-day home delivery and store collection. Since its introduction, customer awareness of FastTrack has continued to grow and its operations are improving, with both on-time delivery rates and customer satisfaction now at leading levels.

“Along with FastTrack, the combination of our now proven digital concession model, together with improvements in digital experiences, have driven increases in both digital sales and digital participation.”