John Lewis continues to win market share

City A.M. Reporter
John Lewis bucked the general gloom in the retail sector with another rise in weekly sales as it continued to win market share from rivals.

The employee-owned business, which has been outperforming competitors for over a year, said on Friday sales at its department stores increased 2.6 per cent to £53.4m in the week to August 20.

Sales excluding VAT sales tax increased one per cent.

"Against a background of the country returning to post-unrest normality, media reports of falling disposable incomes, extraordinary turbulence in the financial markets and changeable weather, it was encouraging to see sales perform creditably again," the firm said.

Consumers are grappling with rising prices, subdued wage growth, a lack of credit, job insecurity, a stagnant housing market, government austerity measures and fears of eventual interest rate rises.

Analysts fear riots in several cities this month and a sharp decline in the stock market will have a further negative impact on sentiment.

Retail sales fell in August at the fastest pace in over a year, a CBI survey showed on Thursday, while building society Nationwide said consumer confidence edged down further in July - more signs that subdued consumption will remain a major drag on the fragile economic recovery.

John Lewis's retail director Andrew Murphy earlier this week said that the firm would outperform a falling retail market this Christmas, benefiting from the strength of its presence in London and investment, particularly in Internet shopping.

John Lewis also owns the Waitrose supermarket chain.