Jun 26, 2009
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UK's John Lewis says has "best week" of first half

Jun 26, 2009

LONDON, June 26 (Reuters) - John Lewis Partnership [JLP.UL], the employee-owned group seen as a barometer of British retail spending, said on Friday 26 June its 27 UK department stores recorded their best performance of the first-half so far.

John Lewis
Womenswear at John Lewis

The group said sales at its department stores increased 2.2 percent to 46.5 million pounds ($75.57 million) in the week to June 20.

"Our best week of the half so far. We were up on five of the seven days, and the week finished with a brisk Saturday (20 June), with Father's Day purchasing clearly in evidence," said the retailer.

Fashion sales increased 10.0 percent, while sales of electricals and home technology were up 3.7 percent. But sales in the home category fell 5.7 percent, handicapped by muted housing market activity.

John Lewis said it was set for "a strong clearance" (sale).

"At face value, the latest John Lewis department stores data look encouraging, particularly as they are seen as a good bellwether for the state of consumer spending," said Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight.

"However, it is important not to read too much into the data as they were clearly lifted significantly by purchases for Father's Day."

Earlier this week British electrical retailers DSG International Plc (DSGI.L) and Kesa Electricals Plc (KESA.L) both reported slumps in profit and gloomy outlook statements.

John Lewis said weekly sales at its chain of 213 Waitrose supermarkets increased 11.8 percent to 86.6 million pounds.

It said Waitrose's sales figures support the view that there are signs shoppers have started to revert to pre-recession behaviour. ($1=.6153 Pound) (Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Hans Peters)

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