Cracking Xmas for John Lewis but other retailers are hit hard

Jan 4, 2012

Who were the winners and losers on the high street over the Christmas break?

AS RETAILERS across the UK begin publishing their Christmas trading statements, City experts have warned that the gulf between the high street’s winners and losers will widen.
Heavy discounting and unusually warm weather encouraged consumers to hit the shops but this wasn’t enough to save some retailers from the threat of collapse in one of the worst ever years for the sector.

So which shops will have a prosperous new year and which will be left with their shelves full and coffers empty? Here are some of the predicted winners and losers of the 2011 Christmas period.

The department store reported an ‘outstanding’ rise in sales during the festive period, with like-for-like sales up 6.2 per cent on last year. Household goods and fashion were particularly strong in the last five weeks of 2011. Total sales for the period rose by 9.3 per cent, partly due to the opening of three new stores. Retail research agency Conlumino said the store had a “cracking Christmas” and is “probably the standout winner in terms of trading”. Source: BBC.

The toy and novelty gift chain announced on 30 December it would go into administration, following the lead of La Senza, Barratts and D2 Jeans earlier in the month. Administrators for the brand, which has a reported turnover of about £60m, blamed “exceptionally challenging trading conditions of late”. But they pledged to try to protect the 380 staff who work across a network of 65 stores, as well as online and over the phone. Source: BBC.

The clothing giant posted weaker-than-expected sales in its stores but this was offset by a “strong” performance in its home shopping arm. Store sales declined by 2.7 per cent between 1 August and 24 December, but they were up by nearly 17 per cent at Next Directory. Conlumino described the brand’s overall growth of 3.1 per cent in a price sensitive market without resorting to discounting before Christmas as “impressive”. Source: The Guardian.

The department store plans to announce its Christmas figures next week but retail analysts at Seymour Pierce have predicted it will be among the losers, despite the store running seemingly non-stop promotions in the run-up to Christmas Eve. Stocks for the chain plummeted at the beginning of December and only mildly improved by the end of the year. Source: The Guardian.

The clothing store topped the ‘Premier League’ of UK retailers compiled by Company Watch, which rates companies’ financial health. Zara’s Spanish owner Inditex has shown strong sales in the last quarter, possibly boosted by the fact that the Duchess of Cambridge is a fan. Despite staving off the sales until after Christmas, it is expected to be another winner for 2012. Source: This is Money.

The Argos owner was named as one of the Christmas trading losers yesterday. Yesterday’s 89p share price was a long way down from this time last year, when stock was trading at around £2. The group will announce its trading figures next Thursday but analysts Peel Hunt does not have high hopes for its January sales, placing it on its ‘loser list’. Source: The Express.

The high street stationer has been tipped to be a winner by Peel Hunt and its Christmas discounts appear to be continuing as the chain offers 80 per cent off many of its book titles for January too. Other on the broker’s winner list include clothes retailer Asos and budget homeware retailer Dunelm. Source: The Bookseller.

The music and entertainment chain is expected to report a further drop in sales when it makes its trading announcement on 9 January and investors have warned that it could collapse within days. The retailer is struggling with debts of £160m, has closed stories and warned that difficult trading conditions have presented the chain with an uncertain future. Shares dropped by nearly 90 per cent in the last year – partly due to competition from supermarkets and websites. Source:Daily Mail.

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