Blog: Leonie BarrieLondon sales gloom

Leonie Barrie | 18 December 2007

I was surprised to read today’s news story that weekly sales at UK department store chain John Lewis have burst through the GBP100m (US$202m) barrier for the first time – and that sales are up 7.7% on this time last year. My first thought is that it must be one of the few UK retailers actually having a good run-up to Christmas.

My own experience, from shopping locally at the week-end to braving sub-zero temperatures in London’s west end yesterday, are that consumers are woefully thin on the ground just now, and nowhere is this more evident than in the numerous discounts – many of up to 60% – that are already being offered on current ranges.

My thoughts were echoed by an article in the Evening Standard which said that despite slashing prices to woo shoppers into their stores, consumer footfall in central London was down by around 4% over the weekend.

So why is London suffering so badly? Well apparently, more Brits are flying to New York to do their Christmas shopping, but in return American and Japanese tourists are staying away from the capital so they don’t get stung by the exchange rate; the financial world is suffering, and lower bonuses mean lower spending; and more people are simply choosing to shop over the internet.

Retailers are now pinning their hopes on next weekend to try to salvage their Christmas sales – but by then it will be too late for some.

Record week breaks GBP100m barrier at John Lewis


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