(Reuters) Sales at department store John Lewis edged lower last week, hurt by disruption caused by severe winter weather in many parts of the UK, it said on Tuesday.
As the only major British retailer to publish weekly sales data, John Lewis provides the most up-to-date snapshot of shopping trends in the run-up to Christmas.
The employee-owned group said department store sales fell 0.6% to £171.4m in the week to 16 December.
“Adverse weather and heavy snow across the country saw fewer people head outside to shop – impacting all categories,” John Lewis director Maggie Porteous said.
Subdued start to trading
“However, trade picked up towards the end of the week,” she said.
Sales at John Lewis’s upmarket grocery chain Waitrose were flat on the year at £164.2m.
Official data published last week showed British shoppers pounced on electrical goods and other bargains in last month’s Black Friday sales, giving an unexpectedly big boost to retail sales, which contrasted with earlier signs of a subdued start to Christmas spending.
Retail research company Springboard reported total shopper footfall fell 7.6% in the week to 16 December 16, reflecting the snow impact and consumers’ budgetary constraints, as well as the growing popularity of online shopping.
Most British retailers will update on Christmas trading in January. Clothing retailer Next is scheduled to report on 3 January.