Merry Christmas for retailers

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Christmas 2016 was a merry one for most of the major retailers with rising like-for-like sales and few reports of supply chain problems. Once again, online sales growth outstripped high street performance.

Marks & Spencer moved back into growth in its clothing business which, for once, eclipsed the success of its food business. It was also a good Christmas for Tesco which reported like-for-like sales growth, while online fashion retailer ASOS reported spectacular growth both in the UK and in its international markets.

These are the major retailers that have reported so far:

Marks & Spencer

M&S13 weeks to 31st December

Total UK sales up 4.5 per cent (1.1 per cent like-for-like)

Clothing and Home sales up 3.1 per cent (2.3 per cent like-for-like)

Food sales up 5.6 per cent (0.6 per cent like-for-like)

Online sales up 9.4 per cent

Steve Rowe, chief executive, said: “In Clothing & Home, better ranges, better availability and better prices helped to improve our performance in a difficult marketplace. We also continued to substantially reduce discounting, including over Black Friday. Our Food business continues to grow market share with customers recognising our product as special and different. Our Simply Food store pipeline remains strong.”


John Lewis

Clipper signs contract with John LewisSix weeks to 31st December

John Lewis sales up 4.9 per cent (2.7 per cent like-for-like)

John Lewis online sales up 11.8 per cent (now 40 per cent of sales)

Group statement: “Operationally, our supply chain performed particularly well; on the Saturday after Black Friday our Magna Park distribution centre processed 33 per cent more units than the equivalent in 2015.”


waitroseeeeSix weeks to 31st December

Waitrose sales up 4.8 per cent (2.8 per cent like-for-like)

Waitrose online sales up 0.8 per cent (2.3 per cent like-for-like)

John Lewis click & collect from Waitrose stores up 18.5 per cent

JLP chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said: “Although we expect to report profits up on last year, trading profit is under pressure. This reflects the greater changes taking place across the retail sector. We expect those to quicken, especially in the next 12 months as the effects of weaker Sterling feed through. We will now accelerate aspects of our strategy. This will involve a period of significant change, investment and innovation to ensure the Partnership’s success.”



TescoSix weeks to 7th January

Total UK sales up 0.9 per cent (0.7 per cent like-for-like) (ex-fuel)

19 weeks to 7th January

Total UK sales up 1.8 per cent (1.7 per cent like-for-like) (ex-fuel)

Group statement: “We delivered a strong operational performance across our store and distribution network, working with our supplier partners to improve service levels, stock flow and availability. On-time deliveries to our large stores improved to 98.9 per cent, enabling us to reduce our level of stock holding in stores by over £50m year -on-year, while improving availability in the peak Christmas week by a further 1 per cent.”


Sainsbury’s to trial zero-emission cooling for deliveries15 weeks to 7th January

Total Sainsbury’s UK sales up 0.8 per cent (0.1 per cent like-for-like) (ex-fuel)

Online Grocery sales up nine per cent

Argos total UK sales up 4.1 per cent (4.0 per cent like-for-like)

Total Sainsbury’s & Argos UK like for like sales up 1.0 per cent (ex-fuel)

Group statement: “The market remains very competitive and the impact of the devaluation of sterling remains uncertain. However, we are well placed to navigate the external environment and remain focused on delivering our strategy.”




MorrisonsHomeDeliveryFleet9 weeks to 1st January

Total UK sales up 2.0 per cent (2.9 per cent like-for-like) (ex-fuel)

Group statement: “In recent months a new automated ordering system has been introduced into all stores in Grocery and many Fresh categories. It is the first of its kind for Morrisons. The system is capital light, use cloud technology and store-specific historic sales data to forecast stock requirements. It is simpler and saves time for colleagues, availability has improved significantly, and stock levels are down.”



asosssFour months to 31st December

UK sales up 18 per cent

International sales up 52 per cent

Total group sales up 36 per cent

Nick Beighton, chief executive officer, said: “Following record sales over Cyber weekend and the Christmas trading period, I’m pleased to report a strong start to the year. A 50 per cent plus increase in international sales is a standout performance. UK sales growth at 18 per cent was a strong performance in a more promotional market. With sales for the year now expected to be up by c.25 to 30 per cent, we’re accelerating our infrastructure investment to handle that growth. ASOS remains well set to meet its longer-term ambitions as a result of the hard work and commitment of the team.”



Picture courtesy of Debenhams.

18 weeks to 7th January

Total group sales up 3.7 per cent (3.5 per cent like-for-like)

Online sales up 13.9 per cent

Group statement: “Momentum has strengthened in multi-channel sales growth, driven by smartphone demand up 68 per cent, with an increased uptake in premium delivery services as our customers respond to the improvements we have introduced. As planned, we have completed 75 per cent of our current store space optimisation programme, and rolled out a further nine food service offers, launching two new partnerships, with James Martin Kitchen and Franco Manca, in the period.”



primark 16 weeks to 7th January

Group sales up 11 per cent

Group statement: “The UK performed well. Like-for-like sales for the period were good and market share increased reflecting the strength of our consumer offering. Like-for-like sales for the group were held back by declines, albeit smaller than last year, in Germany and the Netherlands, the latter particularly affected by the rapid increase in selling space. New stores opened in the period traded strongly and our business in the US continued to develop.

“Stock was well managed again this period. As forecast, the operating profit margin will decline as the year progresses reflecting the strength of the US dollar on input costs. Foreign exchange contracts are now in place for most of the remaining purchases for this financial year.”


Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 15.27.1210 weeks to 7th January

Group sales up 20.6 per cent (14.9 per cent like-for-like)

Group statement: “Distribution centres in Europe and USA operational and performed well during peak trading period, integration into supply chain on track.”


Dunelm Group

curtains13 weeks to 31st December

Like for like sales up 0.2 per cent

Stores LFL sales down 1.4 per cent

Home delivery LFL sales up 21.7 per cent

Group statement: “We have been improving our supply chain with the opening of a new warehouse and the consolidation of our suppliers. These initiatives have caused some disruption to in-store availability during the quarter and we have incurred £3m of additional transitional costs as part of that process. However, availability has already improved to near normal levels and we should see significantly less transitional costs in the second half of the year.”




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