John Lewis has reported a 4.1% increase in department store sales during its first full week of trading with VAT at its higher rate of 20%.
The haul of £55.8 million for the week to last Saturday represented a slowdown on the 38.7% rise seen the previous week when the chain benefited from an additional bank holiday and a surge in business prior to the VAT hike.
Company officials described the latest week of its clearance period as positive but admitted it was helped by comparisons with the snow disruption experienced a year earlier. Excluding VAT, sales were 1.9% higher in the week.
Freddie George, a retail analyst at Seymour Pierce stockbrokers, said the latest figures from John Lewis were broadly in line with expectations.
He added: “As yet, there has been no sign of any slowdown in sales as a consequence of the VAT rises, or the impact of higher prices on consumer’s spending habits.”
John Lewis said fashion and home sales did well last week, up 5.5% and 4.9% respectively. The group’s Reading store produced the strongest growth, up 10.7% on a year earlier, while Cardiff posted an improvement of 9.7%.