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Volatile climate hits Argos but click and collect bolsters web sales

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Argos has suffered a dip in sales, leading to parent company Home Retail Group lowering its year-end forecast. Argos reported like-for-like sales down 4.6% and total sales down 3.1% for the final eight-week trading period for the year ending February 26.

Home Retail Group said the video gaming market has continued to be weak and the audio market was also challenging. Laptops and tablets saw a strong performance and the white goods and toys categories remained in growth.

The internet grew to represent 36% of Argos sales, up from 33% a year earlier. This was driven by the continued popularity of ‘click and collect’ – online reservations for store collection, the company said.

Terry Duddy, chief executive of Home Retail Group, said trading conditions had proved more volatile than anticipated during January and February this year. “There are clear signs of further pressures on consumer spending, with recent trading conditions, particularly at Argos, proving to be more difficult and volatile than we anticipated,” he said.

“As a result, group benchmark pre-tax profit for the year just ended is now expected to be between £250m and £255m. Against the backdrop of the challenging economic environment, and taking in to account our most recent trading, we are now planning with increased caution for the year ahead. The group has a strong financial position and we continue to focus on driving forward our operational performances while investing further across the businesses.”

At Homebase like-for-like sales were up 3.8% and total sales up 1.8%.

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