December 19, 2017 / 11:29 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Snow chills John Lewis sales ahead of Christmas

    * Department store sales down 0.6 pct in week to Dec. 16
    * Waitrose sales flat
    * Week hit by adverse wintry weather

 (Adds detail)
    LONDON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Sales at British department store
John Lewis                     edged lower last week, hurt by
disruption caused by severe winter weather in many parts of the
UK, it said on Tuesday.
    As the only major British retailer to publish weekly sales
data, John Lewis provides the most up-to-date snapshot of
shopping trends in the run-up to Christmas.
    The employee-owned group said department store sales fell
0.6 percent to 171.4 million pounds ($229.2 million) in the week
to Dec. 16.
    "Adverse weather and heavy snow across the country saw fewer
people head outside to shop - impacting all categories," John
Lewis director Maggie Porteous said.
    "However, trade picked up towards the end of the week," she
    Sales at John Lewis's upmarket grocery chain Waitrose were
flat on the year at 164.2 million pounds.
    Official data published last week showed British shoppers
pounced on electrical goods and other bargains in last month's
Black Friday sales, giving an unexpectedly big boost to retail
sales, which contrasted with earlier signs of a subdued start to
Christmas spending.
    British consumers have been squeezed through most of this
year by rising inflation which hit its highest in nearly six
years last month, at a time when wages are failing to keep up.
    Retail researcher Springboard reported total shopper
footfall fell 7.6 percent in the week to Dec. 16, reflecting the
snow impact and consumers' budgetary constraints, as well as the
growing popularity of online shopping.
    Most British retailers will update on Christmas trading in
January. John Lewis and clothing retailer Next are
scheduled to report on Jan. 3.
    Going into December, the supermarkets have been performing
more robustly than non-food retailers, helped by inflation,
while online continues to gain share in both parts of the
    John Lewis Partnership:
                  Week to Dec.    20 weeks to Dec. 16
 Total sales      -0.3 pct        1.4 pct
 Dept stores      -0.6 pct        1.3 pct
 Food stores      0 pct           1.4 pct
 ($1 = 0.7481 pounds)

 (Reporting by James Davey. Editing by Jane Merriman)
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