John Lewis tells retail of cheer

After two months of falling sales, last week saw John Lewis bounce back with a vengeance...

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

John Lewis saw sales jump by 5.9% in the week to July 12, as punters flocked to the second week of its clearance sale – only the second time in ten weeks that sales have actually risen. And it’s largely got women to thank: sales of womenswear shot up a whopping 16%, as the UK’s ladies stocked up on sale bargains to bolster their summer wardrobes. In fact with sales of electrical goods also up, and the out-of-town stores enjoying a renaissance, there was plenty for John Lewis to smile about today.

Director Nat Wakely called it a ‘super result’, pointing out that sales were actually up 13.2% on 2006 – when we weren’t knee-deep in a spending slowdown. He reported that sales were up across every division, with the exception of home furnishing, while online arm John Lewis Direct also enjoyed a ‘terrific week’, with sales up an impressive 34%. Even out-of-town stores enjoyed a revival – Bluewater for example, which is well down for the year to date, enjoyed an 8.1% rise last week.

Sales were slightly more sluggish at Waitrose (the other half of the John Lewis Partnership), inching up 1.2% – Waitrose director Ailsa Emerson blamed the ‘appalling weather’ and the start of the school holidays. However, it seems to be successfully tapping into our reluctance to spend money in restaurants – sales of its ‘As Good as Going Out’ range were a tasty 38% up on last year. Actually, in the current climate any kind of increase rates as a pretty good showing – but we’ve become so used to seeing Waitrose out-perform recently that a mere 1.2% hike seems slightly disappointing.

Someone else who understands the burden of over-expectation is Google, whose stock price appears to operate on different rules to the rest of the market. In the three months to June, the internet giant recorded a 39% rise in revenue (to $5.37bn), and a 35% rise in profit (to $1.25bn) – so naturally, its share price immediately plunged. Google has become a victim of its own success – analysts have got so used to seeing it smash targets that when it comes in slightly below expectations, as it did this time, the market immediately assumes that the end of the online advertising world is nigh. Admittedly its number of paid clicks did fall during the quarter – but only by 1%.

On the other hand, its $150bn valuation suggests investors are still pretty confident about its future prospects. In the week that MPs voted to curtail the notorious 'John Lewis list' (their permitted expenses for second home furnishings), let’s hope the retailer can also continue to flourish, despite the slightly reduced patronage from our elected representatives...

In today's bulletin:
Centrica predicts rocketing prices
John Lewis tells retail of cheer
The older the better for UK employers
Leadership Week: MT meets Shaa Wasmund
Lessons in delivering the goods, from YouTube  

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