Retailer Marks and Spencers is expected to announce the first increase in its underlying quarterly sales since 2007 on Wednesday, and the earnings announcement is expected to kick off a season of trading updates from all the major British retailers during the next week.
Speculation about which retailers emerged as the winners of the Christmas retail price wars have intensified over the last few weeks.
Clothing retailer Next will also be announcing its results on Wednesday and is also expected to report a rise in sales. Sainsbury’s reports on Thursday and is expected to report a slight decline in its sales figures, largely as a result of a drop in food price inflation.
John Lewis which is viewed as a benchmark indicator for the overall performance of the entire retail sector has seen improvements in the performance of both its high end food store Waitrose and at its flagship department stores, boosting expectations of improvements in trading results of the industry in general.
After what can only be described as a terrible economic calendar year, expectations have risen after an extremely robust and busy Christmas shopping season.
The level of discounts declined compared to the previous year, suggesting that retailers have managed to hold on to their margins. However sales figures for the period may be artificially inflated due to a large increase in the number of consumers purchasing big ticket items such as electrical products and white goods before the increase in VAT becomes effective on January 1st.
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