The winners on the high street

The post-Christmas reporting season is in full swing, with Next having the most to cheer about.

Retailers' traditional post-Christmas reporting season is in full swing. Fashion group Next was one of the big winners, with sales between 1 November and 24 December jumping by 12%. Online sales jumped by a fifth at John Lewis, where internet sales comprised a third of the total. House of Fraser also performed strongly, unlike Debenhams, which issued a profit warning.

In the supermarket sector, J Sainsbury's strong Christmas allowed it to eke out marginal sales growth in the fourth quarter. The best-performing supermarkets were the premium and the discount chains. Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose have gained market share.

What the commentators said

This is counterproductive, as customers used to discounts early in the season become reluctant to pay full price for anything, while a track record of pre-Christmas discounting "appears to have started to erode shoppers' broader confidence" in a brand.

Having a strong online business was the other driver of healthy sales, said Graham Ruddick in The Sunday Telegraph. Next offered a free next-day delivery service to stores, so customers could order online the weekend before Christmas Day and collect it in time. As a result, internet sales did not fall off after a good start as they have in previous years.

John Lewis is also notable for its click-and-collect service. Sales of this kind rose by 60% year-on-year. The lessons, then, are simple, concluded Iain Dey in The Sunday Times. "Don't cut prices too far and find a way to make the internet work" for customers. Keep that in mind in the next few weeks as the "endless excuses" start to come out of retailers' mouths.

Recommended

Stockmarkets shrug off turbulence
Stockmarkets

Stockmarkets shrug off turbulence

Stockmarkets have hit their first bout of turbulence of the year, but most are clinging onto January’s gains.
4 Feb 2021
The FTSE 100 has clawed back above 7,000 – how much higher can it go?
UK stockmarkets

The FTSE 100 has clawed back above 7,000 – how much higher can it go?

The FTSE 100 index has risen to over 7,000 for the first time in over a year – it now sits just above where it was in 1999. But its era of neglect cou…
19 Apr 2021
The MoneyWeek Podcast: how to not lose money to inflation and financial repression
Investment strategy

The MoneyWeek Podcast: how to not lose money to inflation and financial repression

Merryn talks to Peter Spiller of the Capital Gearing Trust about how he navigated the last extraordinary year; what he's buying now; and how he plans …
16 Apr 2021
UK mid-cap stocks look forward to life after lockdown
UK stockmarkets

UK mid-cap stocks look forward to life after lockdown

The FTSE 250 hit an all-time high at the end of last week, as investors look to a post-lockdown recovery.
16 Apr 2021

Most Popular

“Joke” cryptocurrency dogecoin goes to the moon. What’s going on?
Bitcoin

“Joke” cryptocurrency dogecoin goes to the moon. What’s going on?

Dogecoin – a cryptocurrency created as a joke – has risen by more than 9,000% this year alone. Saloni Sardana looks at how something that began as an …
19 Apr 2021
Lab-grown meat: how “moo’s law” will drive innovation
Soft commodities

Lab-grown meat: how “moo’s law” will drive innovation

Jim Mellon and Anthony Chow, co-founders of Aim-listed Agronomics, explain why they believe that “cellular agriculture” will benefit from massive long…
16 Apr 2021
The bitcoin bubble will burst: here’s how to play it
Bitcoin

The bitcoin bubble will burst: here’s how to play it

The cryptocurrency’s price has soared far beyond its fundamentals, says Matthew Partridge. Here, he looks at how to short bitcoin.
12 Apr 2021