Retail: John Lewis reveals near-7% jump in like-for-like sales during key Christmas trading period

The John Lewis at home store in Ipswich.

The John Lewis at home store in Ipswich.

Department stores business John Lewis said today that like-for-like sales climbed 6.9% over the crucial Christmas period as it delivered an early snapshot of the retail sector’s performance.

Total sales for the five weeks to December 28 reached £734million, including a 1.2% boost for shops and a 22.6% rise in online takings compared with 2012.

The first day of clearance sales in branches on December 27 saw the biggest ever day of trading across the business as it took £35.6m.

Meanwhile, John Lewis said three-quarters of Christmas Day online traffic came from phones and tablet computers, making it the UK’s first “mobile Christmas”.

The trading period also saw the biggest ever day for online orders on November 29, while the final pre-Christmas week, ending on December 21, broke the £160m barrier for the first time.

Managing director Andy Street said sales over the five weeks had taken a different shape to previous years, with an early peak and a “huge surge” in the last 10 days, including a frenetic Monday two days before Christmas.

“Many of the big online shopping days and weeks occurred earlier in the period but shops were packed in the last-minute rush on ‘manic Monday’ when we saw our city centre shops record peak days,” he said.

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He added that “must-have” items included tablet computers, Christmas lights and coffee machines.

Mr Street said the store’s animated festive TV advert had been viewed more than 11.5 million times on YouTube.

Sales at John Lewis, which regularly publishes weekly trading figures, are seen by analysts as a useful insight into spending patterns. although its customers are viewed as less likely to be affected by the squeeze in income than average shoppers.

Christmas was a critical period for many retailers, representing a make-or-break chance to restore their fortunes at the end of a difficult 2013.