High street: good news at last as Dixons and Primark report

Jan 18, 2013

But the big winner in British retail at Christmas was Asos - proving online sales are the threat

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A CLUTCH of Christmas trading updates has finally produced some winners on the British high street, with Dixons and Primark reporting strong sales in December. However, the big retail winner was the online clothing seller Asos, but there were no glad tidings from either Mothercare or Homebase.

Dixons - which also owns PC World and Currys - saw sales rise 8 per cent helped by the demise of Comet. Cheap and cheerful clothing chain Primark saw sales increase 25 per cent compared to Christmas 2011 thanks to a smart decision to absorb a big rise in cotton prices instead of passing it to consumers.

But it was Asos which operates strictly online that enjoyed the biggest success, with a massive 41 per cent rise in sales during December.

Dixons' boss Sebastian James said the demise of Jessops and HMV was "heart breaking" and admitted his group could have suffered as badly if it had not restructured itself several years ago. James said tablet computers were the big seller in the run-up to Christmas. "People were screaming for them."

Primark kept customer loyalty by keeping prices down, the company said, and the big hits were Christmas themed sweaters and the new "onesies".

As the Daily Mirror reports, Homebase takings fell 3.9 per cent down mainly due to a fall in customers for big ticket items such as kitchens and bathrooms. But the parent company was buoyed by strong sales at Homebase's sister company Argos and Home Retail has forecast annual profits of £10 million.

Mothercare saw a 13 per cent slump in trade but much of this was down to the closure of 11 stores last year.

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