Apr 17, 2009
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John Lewis weekly store sales fall

Apr 17, 2009

LONDON (Reuters) - John Lewis JLP.UL, the employee-owned group seen as a barometer of retail spending, said weekly sales at its department stores fell 1.5 percent compared to the same week last year.

The group said on Friday that sales at its 27 department stores were 48.4 million pounds in the week ended April 11.

John Lewis in Reading, Berkshire

The outcome was John Lewis' best performance so far this year.

"To be fair, the effect of the fall of Easter does flatter us slightly, but nonetheless we can be happy with this performance," it said.

"Last week the weather also had an effect -- we started poorly, had a strong middle to the week, and then with many areas of the country enjoying a sunny and warm Saturday, it's no surprise that this was the least strong day of the week," it added.

Fashion sales increased 6.6 percent. But sales in the electricals and home technology and homewares categories fell 6.2 percent and 4.6 percent respectively.

Many retailers are struggling as shoppers curb spending amid rising unemployment, sliding house prices and fears of a long and deep recession.

Weekly sales at John Lewis' upmarket Waitrose supermarket chain jumped 23.6 percent to 94.7 million pounds, boosted by the timing of Easter compared to last year.

(Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Mark Potter)

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