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John Lewis feels the Olympics effect as online sales rise by more than 40%

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John Lewis today reported that online sales grew by 44% while total sales topped 22% growth in the first week of the Olympics. The figures could give an early insight into how trading across the retail sector has been affected by the London 2012 games. It’s long been hoped that the event would give a much-needed fillip to a hard-pressed sector, but these are the first figures of actual trading to emerge.

The department store chain said today that its internet sales were up by 44.3% in the week to August 4, the first full week of the games, compared to the same week last year. Total sales in the same period were up by 22.4% on last year. Sales of London 2012-related merchandise in particular rose by 51% on the previous week.

While it’s been hoped that the retail sector would benefit from the Olympic effect, expectations have been cautious. Some warned that the Olympic effect might be felt no further than London and the South East. But John Lewis’ results suggest they are feeling the effect further afield. All but two of its stores showed sales growth, with particularly strong performances from its at home format stores, with taking at its Swindon store up by 28.8% on the same week last year, Reading up by 26.8% and Croydon up by 25.8%.

Beyond the London commuting corridor, sales were also up in Cheadle (14.5%), Southampton (16.2%), Cribbs Causeway, Bristol (20.3%) and Cardiff (12.5%).

Tim Harrison, head of commercial formats and implementation at John Lewis, said: “Undoubtedly, the feel-good factor of Team GB’s medal success has had a direct impact in uplifting sales, not only in our London shops but also in our branches throughout the country – certainly a great way to start the new half year.”

He added: “It is a great way to start the second half and gives us real confidence that we are well positioned for the rest of the year. As with gold medals, we only see the results and not all of the hard work that goes into them. Here, we have done a great job to position ourselves for success.”

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