John Lewis sales up for fifth week

LONDON (Reuters) - John Lewis JLP.UL, the employee-owned group seen as a barometer of UK retailing, posted a fifth consecutive week of rising department store sales, benefiting from weak comparative numbers and a store opening.

John Lewis

"We continue to be up against a period of soft figures from the finance sector turmoil of last year and have the added benefit of our.... new shop in Cardiff contributing to our score," the firm said on Friday 23 October.

John Lewis said sales at its 28 department stores increased 13.0 percent to 54.6 million pounds in the week to October 17. Fashion sales increased 19.3 percent, electricals and home technology sales were up 11.9 percent and sales in the home category rose 9.9 percent.

"Given that John Lewis sales are seen as a good bellwether for the state of consumer spending, the latest sales figures boost hopes that retail sales will be better in October having disappointingly been only flat in both August and September," said Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS Global Insight.

But he cautioned that the upside for consumer spending was likely to be limited for some time, given rising unemployment, low earnings growth, heightened debt levels and the prospect of higher taxes in 2010.

On Thursday 22 October the retailer opened the first of its new format John Lewis at Home stores in Poole, southern England.

John Lewis also owns the 218-store Waitrose supermarket chain.

Its sales increased 14.3 percent to 84.6 million pounds, underscoring its current position as the UK's fastest growing grocer.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Mike Nesbit)

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