Heavy discounting at John Lewis gave the department store a much-needed boost over Christmas.
In a glimmer of hope for the struggling High Street, its sales climbed 4.2 per cent in the week to December 22 and increased 4.5 per cent in the week to December 29, compared with the same periods a year earlier.
Across the whole John Lewis Partnership, which includes Waitrose, sales increased by 11.1 per cent last week.
John Lewis managing director Paula Nickolds (pictured) hailed ‘very strong sales on Christmas Eve and a confident start to clearance sales both online and in shops’
The figures come amid fears that retailers were forced to slash prices in the run-up to Christmas to boost sales.
The department store began reducing prices online from 5pm on Christmas Eve.
Managing director Paula Nickolds hailed ‘very strong sales on Christmas Eve and a confident start to clearance sales both online and in shops’.
Patrick O’Brien, an analyst at Global Data, said: ‘You have to wonder what markdowns they had to offer to achieve that level of growth.’
Next will today reveal widely anticipated sales figures for the festive period, and is expected to warn full-year profits will take a hit.
But its shares rose 4.7 per cent yesterday on hopes that results would not be as bad as predicted.
Next’s shares fell by more than 11 per cent last year before yesterday’s bounce back.
Meanwhile, Debenhams’ shares swung wildly, falling as much as 10 per cent in early trading before closing up 2.3 per cent, or 0.12p, at 5.25p.
The department store desperately needs a good Christmas after 2018 saw it issue three profit warnings and announce a store closure programme which will see a third of its 166 shops shut.
Shares fell more than 85 per cent last year.
Debenhams is now vulnerable to a takeover, with Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley thought to be interested in making a grab for the beleaguered firm. Ashley, 64, already owns just under 30 per cent of Debenhams.
Meanwhile, John Lewis’s sister firm Waitrose fared less well over Christmas.
Sales at the supermarket soared 19.2 per cent in the week to December 29, but this followed an 11.8 per cent decline in the week to December 22, prompting fears that shoppers opted for cheaper alternatives such as Aldi and Lidl over the festive period.
A John Lewis Partnership spokesman said: ‘A more meaningful picture of our full figures for the six weeks ending December 29 will be given when we report our Christmas trading figures on January 10.’