John Lewis gives teaser of upbeat Christmas trading, claiming it was boosted by last-minute shoppers

A rush of last-minute gift shoppers helped boost sales at John Lewis in the week of Christmas, the retailer said today in a weekly trading update. 

The figures provided a snapshot of how the department store chain fared over the critical Christmas period, ahead of its fuller trading update scheduled for next week. 

It said sales jumped by 4.5 per cent in the seven days to December 29, spearheaded by a 103 per cent surge in gift food purchases. 

Christmas dash: Sales jumped by 4.5 per cent in the seven days to December 29 at John Lewis

Christmas dash: Sales jumped by 4.5 per cent in the seven days to December 29 at John Lewis

Christmas dash: Sales jumped by 4.5 per cent in the seven days to December 29 at John Lewis

John Lewis enjoyed ‘very strong sales on Christmas Eve’ as well as a ‘confident start to clearance sales’ both online and in its 51 shops. 

Retail analyst Nick Bubb cautioned on Twitter that the sales rise would have been ‘driven by discounting’.

Retail analyst Nick Bubb estimated that like-for-like sales rose 2% in the last two weeks but said this would have been driven by discounting

Retail analyst Nick Bubb estimated that like-for-like sales rose 2% in the last two weeks but said this would have been driven by discounting

Retail analyst Nick Bubb estimated that like-for-like sales rose 2% in the last two weeks but said this would have been driven by discounting

Meanwhile, sales at sister company Waitrose rose 19.2 per cent last week, but slumped 11.7 per cent the week before. 

The grocer explained that the figures were ‘heavily distorted’ by the timing of Christmas and New Year this year and insisted that the numbers are in line with expectations.

A more meaningful picture of the group’s festive performance over the six weeks to December 29 will be released on January 10.

The figures follow a tough year for department store chains during which House of Fraser collapsed and Debenhams issued a string of profit warnings.

The John Lewis Partnership suffered a 98.8 per cent crash in half-year profits last September as it battled to price match the frantic discounting by its rivals.  

Next kicks off the festive reporting season with its results on Thursday. 

Other firms issuing Christmas trading updates over the coming weeks include Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Ted Baker, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and Dixons Carphone. 

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