City A.M. Reporter
BELLWETHER retailer John Lewis posted a surge in sales over the Christmas period, including its best ever week’s trading, and forecast a slow recovery in consumer spending in 2010.

“As the year progresses we expect to see a long slow recovery with the retailers who continue to focus on giving customers what they want prospering,” Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, said yesterday.

The employee-owned retailer said its 29 department stores saw sales rise 15.8 per cent in the five weeks to 2 January, driven by fashion and beauty sales up 22 per cent, a 19.6 increase in homewares, and electricals and home technology 11.4 per cent higher. “We have seen excellent sales during Christmas and Clearance,” Street said. “The five-week period has seen a number of records broken. Sales surpassed the £100m milestone on four separate weeks, the most recent being the week ending 2 January, and we beat our previous biggest ever week from 2007 in early December.”

Britain is taking longer to emerge from recession than most major economies. But the early signs are that while consumers cut back on going out over Christmas, they were prepared to spend a little more on enjoying themselves at home.
John Lewis’s chain of 222 Waitrose supermarkets said sales rose 20.5 per cent year-on-year in the week to 26 December.


• John Lewis started as a single shop on Oxford Street in 1864.
• As a partnership, the company is owned by its 67,000 permanent staff members who get the same scale of bonus as a percentage of pay.