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So what was Christmas really like for retail and the economy

Retailers are reporting mixed fortunes for Christmas 2010 as the flurry of Christmas trading statements continues. But according to the latest High Street Sales Tracker, published today by BDO,  year on year sales growth on the high street held firm despite the snow, down by only 0.5% in the five weeks to January 2011 while takings in the week after Christmas rose 8.3% on the same week in December 2009. Non store sales were up 45% in December year on year.

BDO national head of retail and wholesale Don Williams says: “Snow is a convenient distraction for retailers with deeper underlying problems. While these figures are disappointing, put in context of the poor weather, a dip of less than 1% is not nearly as bad as it could have been,” he says.   

John Lewis saw a 7.6% uplift in like for like sales with new trading records for the biggest week (£121 million) and biggest day when sales hit £27.8 million on its first day of clearance. Online the retailer saw a 42% rise in sales for the five weeks to January 1, compared to the same period last year, with web sales now surpassing £500 million.

House of Fraser also performed strongly delivering  an 8.5% rise in like for like sales for the five weeks to January 8 and as with John Lewis saw strong online growth up 120%.

Majestic Wine saw a 3.7% rise in like for like UK sales for the nine weeks to January 3, while sports retailers including JD Sports and Blacks Leisure also performed well over the Christmas period. JD Sports saw group like for like sales grow 2.5% in the five weeks to January 1, 2011.

However profit warnings have been issued by Mothercare, which said its like for like sales were down around 4 % after the snow impacted its third quarter like for likes and Clinton Cards where like for like sales for the 5 weeks to January 2, fell by 2% . HMV Group announced the closure of 60 of its stores after UK and Ireland like for likes fell by 13.6% for the five weeks to January 1.

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