Heatwave boost for John Lewis sales

John LewisThe spring heatwave has boosted demand for summer fashion ranges at department store John Lewis and triggered a five-fold rise in sales of barbecue food at sister chain Waitrose.

Soaring temperatures prompted shoppers to refresh their wardrobes in the week to March 24, while the supermarket chain, which is also a part of the John Lewis Partnership, said customers snapped up slow-cooked pork ribs and pork belly, burgers and sausages.
But the unseasonable temperatures were not entirely helpful - shopper numbers at John Lewis's out-of-town stores fell over the weekend, while sales of homewares suffered.

The department store chain's sales rose by a "solid" 6.5%, mainly driven by a 22% rise in electrical items ahead of London's digital switchover next week and the continuing demand for the new iPad.

Waitrose saw a 5.9% rise in sales.

Fashion sales rose 2%, with summer ranges of womenswear and childrenswear proving popular.

However John Lewis's overall sales growth was below the previous week's record when the new iPad was launched.

Barry Matheson, director of retail services at John Lewis, said: "It was a week of unseasonably hot weather right across the country, even in Scotland where record temperatures matched those in the Mediterranean. It is clear that the early warm weather had both a positive and negative impact."

He also said the chain, which operates 35 stores, was up against strong comparatives the previous year when the iPad2 was launched.

Meanwhile, Waitrose said sales of sockeye salmon nearly trebled, and yellowfin tuna was up nearly a half, while tomatoes, salads and ice cream were popular. Shoppers quaffed more cider and regional beers, and sales of sun cream trebled.

Waitrose finance director Tom Athron said: "Barbecues were retrieved from the depths of garages and sheds as shoppers made the most of one of the year's first alfresco dining opportunities." Sales also benefited from the opening of a new small store in Birmingham city centre.

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