Sales at stores open more than a year increased 0.3 per cent including VAT sales tax in the 19 weeks to 8 January.
Chief executive Rob Templeman said yesterday he was pleased with the firm’s Christmas performance given the adverse weather that gripped the nation last month.
But he refused to say whether he expected underlying sales to grow in the year ending August 2011.
“What we’ve got to see is how consumer sentiment unfolds over the next six to eight weeks, then we’ll be in a better position to talk about how we think the future lies,” he said.
Many retailers fear that spending cuts announced by the government, as well as tax rises, a slowing housing market and hikes in transport and fuel costs will hit consumer demand in the months ahead.
But Templeman said he was hopeful Debenhams would this year benefit from its decision to switch 530,000 square foot of space from concessions – which sell other brands – to own-brand merchandise.
Debenhams, Britain’s Number Two department store after John Lewis, trades from 167 stores in Britain, Ireland and Denmark.