John Lewis reports rise in weekly fashion sales in week prior to Brexit vote

John Lewis
John Lewis, Oxford Street

John Lewis has posted its weekly sales update which shows total sales up 7.3% to £96.7m on the same week last year. However the company said it had brought its Clearance (or sale) forward compared to last year in line with other retailers and that this was the main driver for the increase in sales.

Fashion ended the week up 4.1% and the company noted sales in childrenswear, nursery and haberdashery were particularly strong  at 14.4% up. Menswear was up 10.7% and womenswear up 4.4% for the week ending 25 June.

John Lewis is unique among retailers in posting weekly sales updates as a result of its status as a partnership and is often viewed as a bellwether of consumer sentiment. More interesting will be the post-Brexit referendum results next week, which may help establish how spooked the British consumer is.

John Lewis chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield had warned prior to the referendum that an exit from the EU would lead to higher prices and would dent consumer confidence for up to five years. Sir Charlie refrained from backing remain or leave although he did express his belief that Britain would be stronger in the EU.

His view on the possibility of higher prices is shared by Next chief executive Lord Simon Wolfson, who had been a prominent voice in the leave campaign. Lord Wolfson said that due to currency hedges that many retailers would have in place price rises would not be felt before spring or summer next year.