Bumper Christmas Eve brings John Lewis festive joy

John Lewis - which has a store in Norwich - is predicting strong sales in the week before Christmas.

John Lewis - which has a store in Norwich - is predicting strong sales in the week before Christmas. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Department store John Lewis received a festive boost thanks to last-gasp gifts bought as late as Christmas Eve.

The chain – which has a four-storey shop in All Saints Green, Norwich – saw nationwide sales climb by 4.3% during the week ending December 29.

The increase was driven by an impressive 103% spike in gift food purchases.

A spokesman for the retailer put the impressive figures down to last-minute shoppers adding that it experienced 'very strong sales on Christmas Eve and a confident start to clearance sales both online and in shops'.

MORE: Next expected to issue glum trading update with Christmas sales falling flat

The John Lewis gifts, cooking and dining section also enjoyed a very healthy week with sales climbing 25%.

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And fashion sales grew 10.7%, with a strong performance in women's cashmere but home sales were down 2.3%. Figures for the week to December 22 show that John Lewis sales were up 4.2% overall.

Retail analyst Nick Bubb calculated that like-for-like sales were up 2% over the two-week period but cautioned that this would have been 'driven by discounting'.

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Nonetheless the figures will be met with relief after many retailers said they had experienced difficult trading conditions in December. Early analysis predicts one of John Lewis' Norwich city centre rivals Next will report disappointing figures from the crucial festive period.

Meanwhile, sales at John Lewis' sister company Waitrose rose 19.2% last week helped by a surge in Christmas dinner shopping.

However, in the week prior sales slumped 11.7%, although the group cautioned that the figures were 'heavily distorted' by the timing of Christmas and New Year and the numbers are in line with expectations.

John Lewis said that a more meaningful picture of its performance for the six weeks to December 29 will be released on January 10.

The figures come ahead of what is expected to be another tough year for department store chains following a disastrous 2018 that saw House of Fraser collapse and Debenhams issue a string of profit warnings.

The John Lewis Partnership itself revealed in September a 98.8% crash in half year profits as it battles against 'challenging times' and the most promotional market for nearly a decade.

Retailers across the board have been battling the rise of online shopping, higher costs and plummeting consumer confidence as shoppers rein in spending amid Brexit uncertainty.

Notable high street names such as Poundworld, Toys R Us and Maplin went bust in 2018, while the likes of Marks & Spencer announced plans to shutter stores.

Several others, including Superdry, Carpetright and Card Factory, have issued profit warnings.

Among the bevvy of firms reporting festive figures over the coming weeks are Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Ted Baker, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and Dixons Carphone.

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