The books and music group, which has been struggling for years thanks to the growth in downloads and stiff competition from supermarkets, said this morning that its like-for-like Christmas sales were up a better-than-expected 9.4% - which means its full-year profits will be at the top end of predictions.
What’s more, although CD sales were down 12% across the market, HMV managed to record a 2% rise. So it’ll be grateful to Leona Lewis and Amy Winehouse, who were apparently the major trend-buckers. It also increased DVD sales by 11% in a generally flat market, and saw a 4% jump in book sales at its subsidiary Waterstone’s (although this was slightly below the market average).
Jubilant HMV boss Simon Fox called it a ‘highly successful Christmas’ which proved he had ‘stabilised the business.’ Even better news was that HMV has apparently seen no sign of a spending slowdown – although Fox admitted that this may because its customers tend to spend a relatively small amount of money (about £10 on average) in its shops.
That brings us nicely onto Primark, which continues to leave its rivals in the shade. Although it didn’t provide a direct comparison with the previous year, the budget clothes retailer saw its £5 sparkly tops fly off the shelves over the festive period, helping it to a 26% rise in total sales. John Bason, the FD of its parent Associated British Foods, told the Guardian this morning: ‘We're aware that people are talking about the consumer spending slowdown, but we're just not seeing it.’
Music to our ears. And to make us even happier than a Newcastle football fan this morning, the good news has just kept on coming from the high street. A good Christmas for Comet (Simon Fox’s former employer) helped French group Kesa Electricals to a 14.3% rise in sales during the period. And Home Retail Group has upgraded its profit forecasts after a strong performance from Argos last quarter – last-minute Christmas shopping helped it to a 2% rise in total sales (like-for-like sales were flat, but in the circumstances HRG will be delighted even with that).
Eternal optimists that we are, we love nothing better than a few good news stories – particularly after the tales of woe we’ve been hearing for the last week. So it’s good to know that HMV is well and truly – in the words of Amy herself – ‘Back to Black’...