John Lewis reports Christmas sales surge

LONDON Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:52am EST

LONDON Nov 17 (Reuters) - The traditional Christmas sales surge began at Britain's biggest department store group John Lewis last week with an 11.7 percent increase on the previous week.

Sales in the week to Saturday Nov. 16, also up 10.7 percent from a year ago, were 101.4 million pounds ($163 million), the earliest that sales have ever topped 100 million pounds, the retailer said.

The employee-owned group put the surge down in part to the arrival of colder weather, but the types of items contributing to the increase were "indications that customers are getting ready to host guests over the festive season", said Andrew Murphy, retail director.

Its online sales accounted for 31 percent of the total and were up 23.7 percent on a year ago.

John Lewis said over a week ago it was confident of outperforming rivals through the year-end season as it launched a festive advertising campaign.

The 149-year-old firm has been winning share from high-street rivals in recent years due to its strong online offering, modern stores and a more affluent customer base. Last Christmas it reported record sales, while rivals such as Marks & Spencer (M&S) endured poor trading in a tough market.

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