Britain's largest department store sees last-minute Christmas sales surge

Britain's largest department store sees last-minute Christmas sales surge
Traffic moves along under the Oxford Street Christmas lights after they were switched on in central London, November 12, 2013.

LONDON - Britain's biggest department store group John Lewis posted a 4.2 percent year-on-year increase in sales to 164.4 million pounds (S$340 million) during the past week, on the back of last-minute Christmas shopping.

The group said on Sunday that the Christmas trading had led to a 9.7 percent rise in sales in the week to December 22 from a week earlier.

John Lewis' robust sales figures stand out in a UK retail sector, where a large number of retailers have begun discounting to attract shoppers. Research by PwC found 72 percent of 100 high street retailers were on sale or advertising promotions in their shop window, such as three-for-two offers.

John Lewis said the most popular item this Christmas was the Apple iPad, with one selling at its stores every 10 seconds during the past week. This has contributed to a 5.6 percent rise in sales for retailer's technology department compared with the same period in 2012.

Sales in the group's fashion department were up 3.3 percent year-on-year, which the retailer attributed to children's clothing and toys, it said. "We also saw an increase in lingerie sets, perhaps reinforcing the stereotype that last-minute gift buying is driven by men," the company said.

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