Shoppers return to stores after snow

Julian Harris
Follow Julian
SNOW may have kept people at home for much of last week, but consumers hit the stores as soon as milder weather returned, according to data released yesterday.

John Lewis recorded falls in sales on Wednesday and Thursday, compared to the same days last year.

However, a weekend surge saw the department store surpass £100bn in revenue for the week.

Saturday’s sales exceeded £20bn, one of their best ever days.

Overall the chain’s sales were up by 1.2 per cent on the previous year, a lower rate of growth than observed in recent weeks.

And across the high street, the holiday season growth in sales was modest, according to figures from accountants BDO.

“The weather has put people off shopping, but it's come so early consumers still have time to do their Christmas shopping,” says BDO head of retail Don Williams.

“Usually most retail sales lost due to bad weather are made up,” added Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight. “Consumers tend to delay purchases rather than cancel them altogether.”

However, with Christmas falling on a Saturday the next two weekends will be crucial, said Archer.

There was conflicting news for online purchases. While non-store sales were up 27.6 per cent on the same time last year, this was well below the rate of increase seen in November (39.2 per cent).

People were concerned about their orders being held up in the snow, said BDO.

Yet John Lewis reported that online sales boomed during the freeze.

Wednesday’s internet sales were up 98 per cent on the previous year, said Maggie Porteous, Head of Selling Operations.

“We undoubtedly saw customers switching to online,” she said.

Meanwhile, West End shops are to open for longer on Monday 27 December, after Sunday trading laws restricted opening times on Boxing Day.

Some stores, such as Liberty, will stay open until 10pm.