Shrewd buying and novelty jumpers drove Primark’s Christmas sales surge, as the value chain insists retailers can thrive without online.

John Bason, finance director of Primark parent Associated British Foods, said: “The buying team got it right. It was all about fun and novelty.”

The availability of on-trend festive jumpers until right before Christmas helped to propel sales, according to Bason. He pointed out that Primark did not discount in the run-up to Christmas and its margins improved over the period.

Festive jumpers, earrings and ‘deely boppers’ – novelty headgear – were among its best-sellers and helped drive footfall to stores, according to Bason.

“More people have come through the doors and they’re buying more. Average basket size improved slightly. This rise is driven by volume,” he said.

Primark’s sparkling festive performance comes as retail growth over Christmas has largely emanated from online.

Bason ruled out launching a transactional website for Primark in the near future and said there was still room to grow on the high street.

He said: “It’s not all about online. I think at our price point it’s difficult to make money. It’s the picking, packing, fulfilment and returns, and all for a £2 T-shirt. That’s your margins blown.”  

Primark sales soared 12% in the 16 weeks to January 4 after “excellent” Christmas trading.

However, Bason said that the unseasonably warm weather impacted sales throughout the period.

Bason said the outlook is improving in the UK and Spain. He said that “a bit” of the sales growth was down to rising consumer sentiment. He added: “People were more positive in the run-up to Christmas.”