Blog: Leonie BarrieGood seasonal sales

Leonie Barrie | 6 January 2010

Festive sales figures trickling in over the past few days suggest that John Lewis, Next and even Marks & Spencer have all had a Happy Christmas.

Department store chain John Lewis posted a 15.8% rise in total sales for the five weeks to 2 January, driven by a 22% jump in demand for its fashion lines. Fashion retailer Next lifted its profit forecasts after sales in the 22 weeks to Christmas Eve rose 4.6%. And at M&S, clothing was the best-performing category, helping drive a 2.6% uplift in group sales for the 13 weeks to 26 December.

The results might all relate to different timeframes, yet the trends are definitely moving in the same direction.

But while consumer spending has undoubtedly been helped by record low interest rates, lower-than-expected unemployment, and shoppers’ determination to treat themselves after a year of cutting back, we are still being warned not to read too much into the results.

Instead, 2010 remains shrouded by looming tax hikes, the country's dire public finances, government spending cuts and rising interest rates – all of which could hit UK consumers hard and curb sales of non-essential items like clothing.

And it’s important not to forget that this year's trading figures have been helped by strong comparisons with dire trading during the depths of the recession last year.

A gloomy prognosis, perhaps, but one that should not be overshadowed by some good seasonal sales.


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