Apr 11, 2010
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John Lewis gets Easter boost, sales jump 30 percent

Apr 11, 2010

LONDON, April 9 (Reuters) - British retailer John Lewis [JLP.UL] posted a 30 percent jump in weekly sales, as poor weather and Easter encouraged consumers to spend, adding to evidence that economic recovery is gaining traction.

John Lewis

The firm, which is seen as a bellwether of the retail sector but has been outperforming competitors this year, said it was confident of continuing its sales performance.

"We now have news of the general election, but it remains to be seen whether this will have an impact on consumer confidence," said merchandise director Jill Little.

John Lewis said sales at its 28 department stores and one "at home" store were 59 million pounds ($89.46 million) in the week to April 3, up from 45.4 million pounds in the same week last year.

The firm said the outcome represented a 21 percent rise compared with Easter week last year.

Sales in the home category increased 31.6 percent, fashion sales were up 30.9 percent and electricals and home technology sales increased 27.1 percent.

On Thursday 8 April Britain's biggest clothing retailer Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) reported better-than-expected sales figures.

"Given a series of recent improved data and survey evidence, it does appear that the UK recovery may be becoming a little more firmly established," said Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS Global Insight.

"Nevertheless, we continue to suspect that the upside for consumer spending will be limited in 2010 as households still face very challenging conditions," he said, pointing to high unemployment, low earnings growth, elevated debt levels and the prospect of higher taxes after the election.

John Lewis also owns the 228-store Waitrose supermarket chain.

Week to April 3 sales here soared 34.4 percent to 109 million pounds, a rise of 12.8 percent on last year's Easter week, underlining Waitrose's current position as one of the UK's fastest growing grocers

Shoppers bought 22.5 percent more Easter confectionery than last year, the firm noted.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Rhys Jones)

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