John Lewis sales get Easter boost

LONDON Fri Apr 5, 2013 8:34am BST

Shoppers pass in front of John Lewis department store in Oxford Street in central London, January 4, 2012. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

Shoppers pass in front of John Lewis department store in Oxford Street in central London, January 4, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly

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LONDON (Reuters) - Sales at Britain's biggest department store group John Lewis rose 23.1 percent last week on the same week a year ago as shoppers took advantage of the Easter break to snap up technology and cooking and dining products.

The employee-owned group, which has been outperforming the broader retail sector for over a year, said on Friday its department store sales totalled 76.7 million pounds in the week to March 30, which included the Good Friday holiday. Easter fell later in April a year ago.

The group's home division saw sales rise 22.5 percent with a record week at its cooking and dining unit, while its electrical and home technology department saw sales rise 46.7 percent.

The cold snap that has engulfed Britain in recent weeks limited sales growth at its fashion division to 4.6 percent, however. Online sales increased 14.6 percent.

While many of its rivals have found the going tough as consumers deal with a squeeze on incomes, John Lewis sales were up 14.4 percent year-on-year in the nine weeks to March 30, helped in part by its more affluent customer base.

"The impressive John Lewis performance gives a lift to hopes that retail sales held up reasonably well in March after jumping in February," said Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS Global Insight.

Easter also proved a bumper period for the group's grocery chain, Waitrose, which saw its biggest ever sales week outside of Christmas, with total sales excluding petrol of 140.7 million pounds last week as shoppers stocked up with favourites like lamb and confectionary.

This represents a 33.9 per cent sales uplift when compared to the same week last year and a 14.8 per cent increase on last year's Easter week.

(Reporting by Neil Maidment; Editing by Paul Sandle)

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