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Retailers report on Christmas 2012

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The shape of Christmas 2012 started to emerge this week as the first traders started to report figures for the most important period of the retail year.

Early indications suggest seasonal spending was especially strong for those retailers with strong internet operations, both in the run-up to Christmas and in the following sales.

John Lewis said its online sales for the five weeks to December 29 were up by 44.3% compared to the same time last year. JohnLewis.com now accounts for a quarter of the department store group’s total business.

The figure helped to boost total sales over the festive five weeks to £684.4m, 14.8% up on the same time last year, while like-for-like sales were up by 14.8%. Total sales were 25.5% up on two years ago, and like-for-likes up by 20.1%.

John Lewis managing director Andy Street welcomed “record-breaking sales figures over the Christmas period and the first five days of Clearance.”

“The success of our online operation and our pre-eminence as an omni-channel retailer cannot be underestimated,” he said. “Sales at johnlewis.com broke through the £800m milestone during December supported by an excellent performance from our Click and Collect facility.”

Meanwhile, fashion retailer Next reported a 3.9% rise in total sales during the fourth quarter of its financial year to December 24, thanks to growth of 11.2% in its largely-online Directory sales. The fashion retailer, which forecast full-year pre-tax profits of between £611m (7.1% up on last year) and £625m (9.6% up on last year), said it would continue to grow the online business in the UK and overseas.

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