John Lewis sales jump ahead of VAT hike

City A.M. Reporter
Sales at department store chain John Lewis rocketed last week as shoppers rushed to buy furniture and electrical goods ahead of an increase in VAT sales tax.

John Lewis, which also runs grocery chain Waitrose, said it also benefited from an extra day of holiday compared with the same week the year before, and from snow disruption the same time a year ago.

Department store sales leapt 38.7 per cent year-on-year, the biggest rise in the group's financial year which ends this month (January).

John Lewis, which has long outperformed the broader retail sector, has bucked that trend, helped by its more affluent customer base, which is coping better with rising taxes and government spending cuts than lower income groups.

The group said sales of home-related products leapt 42.9 per cent, while sales of electricals and home technology goods were up 38.3 percent and fashions up 35.1 percent.

Online sales were up 42 percent.

VAT sales tax rose to 20 per cent from 17.5 per cent on 4 January as one of a number of austerity measures by the government aimed at slashing its debts.

Weekly sales at Waitrose were up 2.9 per cent year-on-year.