As retailers release their sales figures over the vital Christmas period, it has been a tale of two halves for both ‘bricks and clicks’ as  High Street retailers and online enterprises show a mixed shopping bag for December. 

Tesco, Morrisons, John Lewis and Waitrose reported an increase in like-for-like sales while in complete contrast Marks and Spencer total sales fell over the key Christmas period along with House of Fraser who saw a decline in both sales in store and online.

Solely online trader Boohoo posted record revenues during its latest financial period having enjoyed one of its most “successful ever” Black Fridays. For the four months to 31 December 2017, the Manchester-headquartered retailer more than doubled its sales – +107% – reporting an increase in total group revenue of £228m compared to £114m during the same period in 2016.

Worryingly, M&S said like-for-like revenues fell 1.4% in the 13 weeks to 30 December highlighting food, seen as its most successful sector, down 0.4%. Clothing and homeware fell 2.8%. Shares in M&S have fallen by 5.6% to

Tesco’s UK sales rose 2.3% in the 19 weeks to 6 January, with record sales in the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day.

Shares in M&S fell by 18.80 to £305.20, down 5.6%.

Within the arena of high-end department stores John Lewis reported very good clothing sales and said like-for-like sales rose 3.1% for the six weeks to 30 December while one of its nearest competitors, House of Fraser, said sales in stores for the six weeks to 23 December declined by 2.9% with online sales also down, by 7.5% in the period.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium said: 

“There was both light and dark in this year’s Christmas trading period. Growth in spending was in line with the, albeit modest, average for the year. However, the divergence between growth in sales of food and non-food has never been so stark.

“With inflation outpacing income growth, shoppers continued to see more of their spending power absorbed by essential items, including food, leaving less left over for buying Christmas gifts. That made this year’s festive period all the more nail-biting for non-food retailers, many of whom offered deep discounts in the last weeks before Christmas in the hope of something to celebrate at the end of a year, which has seen, on average, zero growth in non-food sales. These promotions came as a welcome relief for stretched households, although the late lift in sales came at the expense of margins for many retailers.

“Retailers who did well in such a challenging environment got both their discounting strategy and omni-channel offerings right. Those who could offer and deliver on last minute delivery options did better, boosting online non-food sales more than 15 percent in the seven days before Christmas, a week when, until now, shoppers would have had to turn to stores to ensure gifts made it under the tree in time.

“With spending likely to remain under severe pressure in the next few years, it’s imperative that in the forthcoming trade negotiations, the Government does all it can to avoid adding new tariffs to existing price pressures.”

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