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By
Reuters
Published
Mar 20, 2009
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John Lewis weekly department stores down 4.1 pct

By
Reuters
Published
Mar 20, 2009


LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) - John Lewis Partnership [JLP.UL], the employee-owned group seen as a barometer of British retail spending, on Friday March 20 reported a 4.1 percent fall in weekly sales at its department stores.

The group, which runs 27 department stores in the UK, said week to March 14 sales in the division were 45.1 million pounds ($64.2 million).

The sales decline was driven by a 9.7 percent fall in the home category and a 4.2 percent decline in electricals and home technology. Fashion sales were up 1.5 percent.

Many UK retailers have been struggling as indebted consumers rein in spending amid soaring unemployment, sliding house prices and fears of a long and deep recession.

"Trade for the week followed the same pattern as the recent past. We fell short of last year by 4 percent, but this was still substantially better than we had expected, and almost all shops beat their own targets," said Managing Director Andy Street.

"The figures from last year begin to be influenced by Easter from now on, so comparisons are hard to read. We still have the opportunity of Mother's Day this week and the Easter peak."

Sales at the group's chain of 198 Waitrose supermarkets were flat at 79 million pounds. (Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Mark Potter)

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