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Retail: Currys, PC World, Argos and Primark all join list of Christmas retail winners

12:57 16 January 2014

Argos had its best Christmas in more than 10 years, owner Home Retail Group said today.

Argos had its best Christmas in more than 10 years, owner Home Retail Group said today.

The list of Christmas retail winners lengthened today with positive trading updates from the owners of chains include Currys, PC World, Argos and Primark.

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Currys and PC World parent Dixons Retail said like-for-like sales in the UK and Ireland between November 1 and January 4 were 5% up, with a strong start to the period and a record-breaking Boxing Day offsetting a quiet two weeks immedidately before Christmas.

The UK performance was particularly notable, given tough comparatives a year earlier when Dixons’ sales were boosted by the collapse of rival Comet.

Across the group, however, like-for-like growth was restricted to 3% as a result of tougher conditions in some European markets, including an 8% fall in sales in Greece.

Argos owner Home Retail Group said the catalogue chain, which is undergoing a digital makeover, had its best Christmas in more than 10 years, with like-for-like sales up 3.8% in the 18 weeks to January, driven by demand for tablet computers and the new Xbox One and PlayStation4 games consoles.

Home Retail’s DIY business, Homebase, saw a better-than-expected 4.7% like-for-like increase, thanks to strong sales of “big ticket” items. However, the group warned that margins had suffered at both its chains as consumer electrical and big ticket items are less profitable.

Cycle and motoring products specialist Halfords said an “excellent” Christmas for sales of children’s bicycles had kept its recovery firmly on track, with like-for-like sales up 5.9% over the 15 weeks to January 10, including 20% growth in bikes.

Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF)reported a 14% increase in total sales for the discount clothing chain in the 16 weeks to January 4.

ABF did not quote a like-for-like sales figure but said Primark’s performance had benefited from a strong performance by existing stores as well as an 8% increase in selling space.

And Thorntons said its sales were 6.3% up in the 14 weeks to January 11, helped by strong sales of advent calendars and a new range of chocolates based on festive film favourite The Snowman.

Growth in online and supermarket sales led the way while its own high street stores returned to like-for-like growth.

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