JD Sports sees consumer confidence headwinds

Sport retail chain JD Sports Fashion has issued a trading statement of two halves, saying its sales improved until mid-September but declined substantially after that until November.

In a downbeat assessment of falling UK consumer sentiment, the company warned that it was having to work hard to sustain its margins as customers spent less.

In the seven weeks to 17 September it said gross like-for-like sales were up 3.3 per cent, boosted by its fashion lines where sales rose 7.4 per cent.

The remaining six weeks saw a dramatic decline to create an overall like-for-like growth of just 0.2 per cent in the three month period, leading to a net sales fall of 1.5 per cent after VAT.

“Performance since 17 September has been impacted by the continuing downward pressures on all elements of discretionary consumer spending and the recent marked decline in consumer confidence,” it said in a statement.

“Despite experiencing adverse pressure on margins because of the trading environment, we continue to work hard to maintain them.”

It added that it believed trading throughout the critical Christmas period would also be “tough”.

“The result for the full year remains, as usual, substantially dependant on the performance through the Christmas period. However, at this stage the board believes the group remains on course to deliver earnings in line with current expectations,” it added.

JD Sports has remained more resilient throughout the past year than competitors such as JJB Sports.