Signs of early Christmas shopping were evident last week at John Lewis department stores and sister supermarket business Waitrose.
John Lewis reported increased demand for toys “as organised parents whirl into action well in advance of Christmas”, while Waitrose said “one of the star attractions of the week” was Delia Smith’s Classic Christmas Cake ingredients pack.
Sales at John Lewis department stores business climbed 4% to £64.8m in the week to October 22. Excluding VAT the increase was 2.1%.
Fashion sales rose 5%, driven by childrenswear and womenswear. The electricals and home technology category was ahead 5.3%, powered by “a strong run on white goods, computing and accessories. Home was up 2.3%.
John Lewis’s online business was up 21.8%, described by the retailer as “a slightly softer week after a cracking number the week before”. Six stores posted sales uplifts, led by Poole which was ahead 8.2%.
Looking forward, electricals and home technology buying director Ed Connolly said: “Big numbers against us this week must provide impetus for us to really go after every sale. It’s half-term week so we must capitalise on our biggest opportunity yet to capture sales and really build momentum towards peak.”
Revenues at Waitrose climbed 11.8% to £104.8m over the week. Finance director Tom Athron said: “One of the star attractions of the week was the arrival of Delia’s Classic Christmas Cake ingredients pack, which was a sell-out success last year, and expected to be even bigger this year.
“Already showing a sales increase of over 13%, we’ve delivered Delia’s Classic Cake Boxes to branches over a week earlier this year, and ordered extra supplies to meet with demand.