Strong online sales and a barrage of cut-price promotions helped department store chain Debenhams report record sales over the festive season.
The group, which has a store in Leeds and is due to open one in the Westfield development in Bradford by spring 2016, said like-for-like sales rose 5.0 per cent in the five weeks to January 5.
The group ran promotions for two more days in the 18-week period than in the previous year, including one-day specials offering discounts of up to 50 per cent.
Debenhams’ chief executive Michael Sharp said the Christmas period was the most competitive he has seen in his 37-year retail career.
“Christmas shopping came very late, not only did customers have less money to spend, they’ve now become acclimatised to the new economic reality. They were extremely canny about how they spent their money,” he said.
Mr Sharp said Debenhams’ performance, when compared with a survey from the British Retail Consortium which showed a sales increase of just 0.3 per cent in December, showed the group is “definitely winning and somebody else is losing big time.”
Britain’s biggest clothing retailer Marks & Spencer is expected to report a decline in general merchandise sales when it posts quarter figures on Thursday.
John Lewis has already reported bumper Christmas takings and clothing retailer Next raised profit guidance after a solid festive season. Debenhams’ like-for-like sales in the 18 weeks to January 5 rose 2.9 per cent.
Online sales were the star performer, with sales up 39 per cent over the 18 weeks, ahead of the firm’s expectations.
Online sales now account for 12.6 per cent of Debenhams’ total sales, up from 9.3 per cent this time last year.
Best-sellers over Christmas included its Jonathan Saunders Edition red coat, which was its fastest-selling coat ever after appearing in the “Christmas Made Fabulous” television adverts. Julien MacDonald party dresses also sold well.