* Dept store sales up 20.6 pct in week to June 5
* Waitrose sales up 6.1 pct
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LONDON, June 11 (Reuters) - British retailer John Lewis [JLP.UL] posted another week of double-digit sales growth with trade boosted by the build-up to the soccer World Cup, which starts on Friday.
The employee-owned firm, which is seen as a bellwether of the UK retail sector but has been outperforming competitors for nearly a year, said sales at its 28 department stores and one “at home” store increased 20.6 percent to 54 million pounds ($78.66 million) in the week to June 5.
“As World Cup fever reached a crescendo of anticipation, customers splashed out on new flat-screen TVs,” the firm said on Friday, adding that World Cup stock had also sold very well in sports and childrenswear.
John Lewis’ performance contrasts with that of Home Retail HOME.L, Britain’s No.1 household goods retailer, which on Thursday posted a bigger than expected drop in quarterly sales at its Argos stores, partially blamed on a loss of market share in TVs. [ID:nLDE6580SG]
UK retailers are generally emerging from a deep recession but fear steps, such as higher taxes, to rein in a record government deficit will hit consumer spending in the months ahead.
“The football World Cup always tends to have some upward impact on retail sales and this is liable to be magnified the better that England do,” said Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS Global Insight.
“Further out, it is hard to be optimistic about the prospects for consumer spending. Indeed, we believe that consumer spending will be limited for some time to come.”
John Lewis also owns the 228-store Waitrose supermarket chain where week to June 5 sales rose 6.1 percent to 94.4 million pounds, confirming its status as one of the UK’s fastest growing grocers. [ID:nLDE64O0S9] ($1=.6865 Pound) (Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Hans Peters)