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Reuters
Published
Feb 18, 2011
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John Lewis sales stall on shopper worries

By
Reuters
Published
Feb 18, 2011

LONDON, Feb 18 - British retailer John Lewis [JLP.UL] posted a fourth consecutive week of lacklustre sales, adding to evidence consumers are cutting back on spending in the face of macro economic headwinds.

John Lewis

The employee-owned group, which has been outperforming the broader retail sector for over a year, said on Friday sales at its department stores increased 1.4 percent to 49.8 million pounds ($80.35 million) in the week to Feb. 12.

That follows a rise of 1.2 percent in the previous week and declines in the last two weeks of January.

"The John Lewis figures suggest that consumers are becoming increasingly less prepared -- or less able -- to spend as higher inflation (fueled by January's VAT hike from 17.5 percent to 20.0 percent) and muted earnings growth squeezes their purchasing power," said IHS Global Insight chief economist Howard Archer.

British consumer confidence fell sharply in January to near its weakest level since early 2009, a survey by building society Nationwide showed on Wednesday. Official retail sales data for January are due to be published at 0930 GMT.

John Lewis also runs upmarket grocery chain Waitrose. Sales here rose 5.4 percent to 96.6 million pounds, with purchases for Valentine's Day providing a boost. (Reporting by James Davey, editing by Mark Potter)

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