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Aug 27, 2012
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John Lewis sales up as shoppers catch sports fever

Aug 27, 2012

Photo: John Lewis

John Lewis, Britain's biggest department store group, posted strong sales growth last week, helped by increased demand for sports equipment following Britain's gold medal haul at the London Olympics.

The employee-owned firm said on Friday department store sales jumped 14.5 percent year on year to 61.1 million pounds ($97.1 million) in the week to August 18, the third week of its fiscal second half.

"There were no post-Olympic Games blues for customers... we saw a 31 percent growth in sports equipment sales with some customers perhaps aspiring to be the next Mo Farah," it said.

John Lewis, the official department store provider to the London Games, said sales in its electricals and home technology category increased 28.1 percent, with tablets, televisions and white goods all seeing double figure increases. Sales in the home category were up 7.7 percent.

The company said recent sales had been boosted by a feel good factor following the London Games.

Although inflation and unemployment are falling, Britain is still in recession and many retailers are hurting.

John Lewis, which has a bias to the south east of England, has set the pace in the sector this summer, outperforming rivals as wet weather has driven footfall from the high street to the covered shopping malls where its stores are often located.

Unseasonably cold weather is also favourable for its key household goods business.

The retailer has also been outperforming the wider market because its generally more affluent customers have been less impacted by Britain's economic downturn, while improvements to product and service and new modern stores have chimed with consumers.

"Contrary to what appears to have been experienced elsewhere on the high street, there were no post Olympic blues at John Lewis," said Seymour Pierce analyst Kate Calvert.

"There is another week of limbo before the Paralympics starts but we remain of the view that the Olympic feel good factor is likely to be short-lived."

John Lewis also owns upmarket supermarket chain Waitrose, where week to August 18 sales rose 10.2 percent to 105.6 million pounds. It noted food sales were helped by last week's hot weather, with strong demand for barbeque-related goods.

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