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Friday 22nd of January 2010
January 11, 2010    

Peacocks, Poundland, Co-op see strong xmas trading

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by Kay Murchie

Peacocks, which operates more than 500 fashion stores across the UK, posted a 17% rise in like-for-like sales on last year’s levels in December and early January.

Richard Kirk, chief executive, said it had experienced a “cracking Christmas as customers decided they were going to celebrate after a year of doom and gloom”.

Meanwhile, the good news just keeps on coming for the High Street after discount store, Poundland, enjoyed a 4.4% rise in like-for-like sales during the five weeks to 3 January.

Discount stores such as Poundland appear to be thriving in the recession as consumers seek out bargains. The chain, which currently has 254 stores across the UK, is planning on opening one new shop a week.

Chief executive Jim McCarthy told Reuters: “We’ll probably add another 50 [shops] next [fiscal] year.”

Meanwhile, Britain’s largest mutually-owned retailer the Co-operative Group, posted a 4.8% rise (excluding fuel) in sales in the 12-week period to 2 January.

The retailer, which is the UK’s fifth largest following its acquisition of Somerfield, said total sales were up by 66% due to its acquisition.

Also today, department store chain House of Fraser reported bumper Christmas sales after the company reported that like-for-like sales (which strip out gains from new stores) were 7.1% higher than 2008 levels.

The group said it had enjoyed its best ever Christmas week and also saw a Boxing Day sales surge 27%.

Last week, Marks and Spencer, reported its first sales growth in over two years. Fashion chain Next reported better than expected sales figures for the Christmas period, while the John Lewis Partnership, which is seen as a barometer of British retailing, said like-for-like sales were up 12.7% in the five weeks to 2 January 2010 compared with a year ago.

However, despite an excellent festive season for many retailers, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) is warning the High Street not to be bullish as a “very tough” 12 months is in store.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson is warning that consumer spending may not grow as a result of tax hikes and continuing economic uncertainty.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Robertson said: “There will be increasing consumer uncertainty and we will see consumer confidence dropping. There will be tough sales and perhaps no growth.”

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