Recession? What recession?

HIGH street retailers enjoyed a successful Christmas, with John Lewis leading the way with record-breaking sales...

IF you hadn’t heard already, we’re in a recession at the moment.

But you wouldn’t have known it by looking at some of the extraordinary sales figures posted by some of the country’s top retailers over the Christmas period.

And none more so than department store John Lewis, which made headlines this week after taking a record �500.8m in the five weeks up to January 2.

The news has been viewed by some as an indication the credit crunch is not as bad as previously thought, and that the economy could finally be starting to recover after a dismal 2009.

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Andrew Slater, managing director of John Lewis in WGC, gave a cautious welcome to the apparent boom, saying: “It’s difficult to know what exactly drives a particular sales pattern.

“I think the Christmas and clearance sales have gone really well, and perhaps people are realising the recession has turned out not as bad as people feared.

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“Mortgage rates are down, so people have a bit more money in their pockets, and maybe they just thought they’d have a nice Christmas this year.”

He added: “The whole John Lewis business did very well and we did also.

“Our online section was an important part of the growth, as well as the “click and collect” facility, which allows you to buy online then collect in store.

“It’s all about being multi-channelled, so people can shop online, on the phone or instore.”

Other high street brands have also enjoyed a successful Christmas campaign.

Fashion retailer Next, which has a store in the Howard Centre, WGC, has now raised its profit forecast for 2010 from �472m to �500m, following the festive period.

A spokeswoman for Next said: “The [WGC] store was busy over the Christmas period.”

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