It was a digital Christmas for the UK multichannel traders who reported their Christmas trading figures today.Dixons Retail Group
said multichannel, internet-led, sales grew by 23% during the period from November 1 to January 4
, compared to the same time last year. Meanwhile, total sales at its brands, which include Currys
and PC World
, were up by 2%, with sales in the UK and Ireland up by 4%.
Sebastian James, group chief executive, said Christmas had been “lively”. He added, “In the UK and Ireland, the Black Friday weekend was remarkably busy but was followed by a somewhat quieter couple of weeks as we approached Christmas Day.
“From Boxing Day, the business took off like a rocket – in fact Boxing Day itself was the biggest in Dixons’ UK history with more than £100,000 flowing through our tills every minute.” But he remained cautious for the future, given what he described as a “fledgling” recovery in the UK.
While general merchandiser Argos
reported total sales of £1.8bn in the 18 weeks to January 4, 3.6% up on the same period last year, online sales grew to 46% of Argos sales, up from 42% last time. Mobile commerce was up by 75%, and represented 20% of total Argos sales. Like-for-like sales rose by 3.8%, with strong sales of video gaming and other entertainment products. At sister company Homebase sales grew by 2.3% to £464m in the period, with like-for-like sales up by 4.7%. But both companies saw profit margins fall as the sales mix altered.
Terry Duddy, chief executive of the companies’ parent company Home Retail Group
, said in today's trading statement
that the figures reinforced Argos’ plan “to become a digital retail leader”. Duddy’s departure from the role was announced today; he’ll be succeeded in March by Argos managing director John Walden.
Online sales accounted for 11.7% of total Halfords
sales over the 15 weeks to January 10; during the period they grew by 13.8%. That contributed to total sales up by 6.6% in the period, with like for like sales up by 5.2%. Halfords chief executive Matt Davies said cycling had been the “standout performer”.
Finally, chocolatier Thorntons reported sales up by 6.3% to £93.1m in the 14 weeks to January 11. Online, or consumer direct, sales rose by 27% in the period, while retail sales fell by 2.9% to £46.1m. Like-for-like sales, stripping out the effect of 36 store closures over the period compared to last year, rose by 3.5%.
Thorntons chief executive Jonathan Hart said the performance represented “good progress”.