Snow hits John Lewis sales

Retailer John Lewis this morning cautioned that heavy snowfall across the country last week hit sales.

Sales rose 6.7 per cent to £59.5m in the week to January 19, slipping back from growth of 18.9 per cent the week previously – the first full week of their clearance sale.

Simon Russell, director of retail operations development at John Lewis, said this morning: "The underlying trade remained very strong and we were up 15 per cent going into Friday. However, our momentum chilled somewhat as the first significant fall of snow in almost a year hit Wales and much of England.

"Nevertheless, despite a quiet Friday and Saturday, sales still grew by 6.7 per cent for the week."

Electricals and home technology continued to trade strongly, with 30 per cent growth over the week. Online sales were up 40.3 per cent, showing how resilient that channel can be during bad weather.

"The John Lewis experience with the hit to sales from the snow and ice will obviously have been experienced by retailers generally, and it highlights the very real risk that the disruption to the economy from the snow and ice could be enough to cause the economy to contract modestly in the first quarter of 2013 rather than grow," Howard Archer, chief European and UK economist at IHS Insight, warned this morning.