John Lewis sales fell in what was effectively the first genuine like-for-like week of its financial year, as the calendar returned to normal following the run of Bank Holidays.
Sales were down 3% excluding VAT in the week to 7 May, or 1.4% including VAT. Only three stores - Oxford Street, Aberdeen and Peter Jones - managed to increase takings, even with the benefit of higher VAT. 12 stores recorded double digit declines in sales, with the first At Home store in Poole again the worst performer, down 16.4%.
Online sales growth was 19.4%, below the 26.5% recorded over the year so far.
Fashion was the best performing product area, with sales up 4.9%. Buying director for fashion Susanne Given said the “Pippa effect” drove sales of occasionwear. Home, electricals and technology had tougher weeks, particularly with larger items, and the anniversary of the World Cup is likely to make consumer electricals sales tough for the next six weeks, Given said.
Waitrose was up 10.8% over the week, with sales breaking the £100m mark. The continued good weather and May bank holiday were good news for outdoor food sales. Women’s magazines were up 91% following the Royal Wedding.