Black Friday fuels record sales at retailer - in Britain

Shoppers are pictured walking past Black Friday advertising in shop windows on Oxford Street in central London on Nov 28, 2014.British department store chain John Lewis and other retailers reported record sales last week as shoppers surged into store
Shoppers are pictured walking past Black Friday advertising in shop windows on Oxford Street in central London on Nov 28, 2014.British department store chain John Lewis and other retailers reported record sales last week as shoppers surged into stores on the traditionally American sales day to snap up bargains. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - British department store chain John Lewis enjoyed record sales last week as Black Friday bargain-hunters snapped up tablet computers and televisions in the crucial run-up to Christmas, it said on Tuesday.

Sales soared to £179.1 million (S$366.85 million) in the week to Saturday Nov 29. That was 21.8 percent higher than the same week last year, and was 56.8 per cent higher than the previous week.

"Black Friday helped deliver the biggest ever week for sales in John Lewis's 150-year trading history," the company added in a statement.

On Black Friday itself - Nov 28 - the retail chain sold one tablet computer every second and one Samsung big-screen television every minute.

In recent years, Black Friday has become firmly established in Britain, with retailers - including US-owned supermarket Asda and British rival Tesco - scrambling to slash prices both in-store and online.

The annual promotions day originates in the United States, where it is held the day after Thanksgiving.

John Lewis added on Tuesday that its online sales rocketed by 42.2 per cent last week from a year earlier.

The group's electricals department was the top performing division with weekly sales surging by a record 40.9 per cent last week.

In addition, a number of its stores achieved record daily takings, including Ipswich, York, Southampton, Liverpool and its flagship branch in London's Oxford Street.

"The spectacular John Lewis performance highlights just how keen consumers have been to take advantage of Black Friday bargains," said economist Howard Archer at consultancy IHS Global Insight.

"While consumers are always keen to take advantage of bargains, particularly in the run-up to Christmas, the desire for bargains has undoubtedly been heightened for many people by the extended squeeze on purchasing power coming from prolonged low earnings growth."