Halfords has reported an uplift in Christmas sales but cautioned that the trading environment remains subdued.

Halfords generated a rise in group revenue of 3.2% in its third quarter, when retail sales rose 3.3%.

Over the period to January 12, group like-for-likes advanced 2.7% while retail-like-for-likes climbed 2.9%.

Cycling like-for-likes were up 7.8% and car maintenance 2.1%. However, travel solutions were down 4.1% and car enhancement down 1.1%.

The retailer’s sales of sat navs continued to decline and were outpaced by sales of dashcams during the period for the first time.

Group online sales rose 13%, and more than 80% of Halfords.com orders were collected in-store, “reinforcing the advice and service-led nature of transactions”.

Halfords, which new chief executive Graham Stapleton joined this week, said that while “sales for the quarter were slightly ahead of expectations”, it expects that “the UK retail sales environment will remain subdued” for the remainder of the year.

Group profit before tax is expected to be “broadly in line with current market expectations”.

‘Record sales’

Halfords chief financial officer Jonny Mason said: “We are pleased with the overall performance of the group given the difficult UK retail environment.

“We achieved record sales for Black Friday and Christmas thanks to great planning and execution and compelling product and service offers.

“Particular highlights included the growth in fitting services for car parts, cycle repair and increased sales of bikes, electric bikes and dash cams.”

Mason told Retail Week that although Black Friday has spurred the retailer’s sales, the sales bonzanza is “less important for us than it is for some other retailers.”

“We do better at Christmas,” he said, adding that Halfords had a “record week of sales” in the run up to the festive event.

When asked about the outlook for the year ahead, Mason said: “We’re relatively cautious but have not seen any impact so far on our sales in terms of different customer behaviour.

“We are still managing to sell big ticket items such as e-bikes and roofboxes in good quanities.”