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Online sales gain ground at Argos

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Almost a third of Argos’ sales now take place over the internet, its parent company said today.

Home Retail Group, reporting its second quarter trading statement to the London Stock Exchange, said 32% of Argos sales were now via the internet. That’s up from 28% a year ago, and is credited to the online Check & Reserve service.

However, the company also said total sales at Argos fell by 2.8% to £924m in the 13 weeks to August 28, while like-for-like sales fell by 5%. Hardest-hit were big-ticket furniture and other home-related items, as well as video gaming. Computers, white goods, toys and lower price homewares saw growth.

Meanwhile total sales at sister company Homebase fell by 1.1% to £396m, while like-for-like sales fell were flat.

Terry Duddy, Home Retail Group chief executive, said: “For the year as a whole, we expect to deliver group benchmark profits before tax of £250-275m, which is in line with the bottom half of the current analyst range. As always, the outcome will depend upon trading at Argos in its peak Christmas period.”

Neil Saunders, consulting director at retail consultancy Verdict said: “Argos is very exposed to the big ticket, home-related parts of the retail sector that remain in the doldrums so it’s no surprise to see such a negative set of results. It is likely the Argos consumer is feeling a significant squeeze on their household budget and is cautious about spending on higher priced items. If this mentality persists into Christmas, which it probably will, the picture for the full financial year will be pretty bleak.”

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