Selfridges sees strong Christmas trading, London branch sees 10% rise
While the Christmas shopping season is generally acknowledged to have been a weak one for UK stores, it hasn’t been quite as bad as some expected and a few sector stars actually managed to turn it into a triumph.
Selfridges was one of those with the high-end department store chain saying Monday that its Christmas trading broke new records.
Sales across its physical stores and in its online business were up as much as 8%, which is pretty impressive in a UK retail market beset by consumer caution and shoppers seeking bargains.
That 8% rise came in the 24 days up to Christmas, and we’ve already heard from the company how its Boxing Day clearance sale got off to a storming start. The company also managed to maintain steady trading throughout the pre-Christmas period with the week leading up to December 25 also seeing an 8% sales rise.
The lack of the last-minute surge experienced by some other retailers highlights how adept Selfridges has been at managing customer flow with few of its customers holding off from spending until the 11th hour in the hope of radical markdowns. They knew that the company would hold its nerve with no need to slash prices to drive visitor traffic.
The giant Oxford Street branch in London was understandably its biggest asset during the season given the huge numbers of high-spending international tourists it hosts year-round. They were out in force during December and helped drive sales at the branch up 10% in the 24-day period.
The news comes at the start of a week in which a raft of big name UK retailers are set to report their Christmas figures and while those numbers are expected to be weak for many of them, they’ll perhaps not be as bad as some had predicted. Next has already confounded the direst predictions and seen its shares rising strongly as a result.
But even if other retailer figures aren’t as bad as predicted, Selfridges still stands out from the pack and certainly seems to have nothing to worry about at the moment. Its business, comprised of stores in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Salford, plus an e-tail operation that ships to over 130 countries, is riding the wave of buoyant luxury spending worldwide.
But the company isn’t only hanging on to the coat-tails of the global phenomenon that is the modern luxury sector. Its own unique initiatives, from its Selfridges Rocks Christmas programme, to the quirky brand concepts in its Corner Shop, new attractions like its free in-store skate bowl, themed seasonal entertainment such as a Christmas cabaret, and a raft of brand exclusives made it a key West End destination during December.
MD Anne Pitcher said: “We are delighted to have delivered such a strong performance over the Christmas period. Our Selfridges Rocks Christmas theme and entertainment really resonated with our customers, both across our stores and online. Our customers come to us for the unexpected and I feel this year we delivered just that.”
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