John Lewis sales 'good for retail sector'

15-09-2006

John Lewis' impressive year-on-year increase in sales in the week to September 9th is good news for Britain's retail sector, a leading financial commentator has said.

Howard Archer of research firm Global Insight, responding to the announcement of an 11 per cent increase, said that the increase meant there were grounds for optimism about future prospects for Britain's retail performance.

Official retail figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed that, despite the interest rate rise in August, Britain's retail sector continued to be "robust" despite a deceleration in the monthly growth rate over the last three months from 0.7 per cent to 0.3 per cent.

Although Mr Archer acknowledged that John Lewis, which recorded an 11 per cent growth in the last six months, was performing better than many of its high street competitors, he nevertheless insisted that the chain's figures for early September were "an early indication that consumer spending is continuing to hold up relatively well in September after a solid performance in August".

"The resilience of consumer spending reinforces the belief that the Bank of England will hike interest rates by a further 25 basis points in November," Mr Archer predicted.

He emphasised that the results were particularly impressive "given that consumer price inflation came in above expectations in August" and the "current buoyancy of the housing market".

Both of these factors, he warned, would be taken into account by the Bank of England's monetary policy committee (MPC), which releases its minutes explaining September's decision to hold interest rates at 4.95 per cent next week.


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