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John Lewis rides out riots

Department store sees sales rise during week of violence on UK streets as shoppers turn to internet

John Lewis, Britain’s biggest department store chain, said its revenue rose last week even though the UK saw widespread looting and rioting, with its middle class customers switching to internet shopping.

The employee-owned business said on Friday that sales at its department stores increased by 2.9% to £52.9m in the week to 13 August. Sales excluding VAT increased 1.3%.

John Lewis said: “John Lewis online managed to pick up the customers that couldn’t or didn’t get to our shops. So considering the events of last week on our streets and in the financial markets it was a solid performance.”

John Lewis, which has been outperforming competitors for over a year, had one store, in Croydon, south London, broken into during the rioting.

British consumers are grappling with rising prices, subdued wage growth, a lack of credit, job insecurity, a stagnant housing market, government austerity measures and fears of eventual interest rate rises.

British retail sales barely grew in July, data showed on Thursday. and analysts fear last week’s rioting could further damage sentiment and heighten the risks to the UK’s already fragile economic recovery.

John Lewis also owns the Waitrose supermarket chain. Its sales in the week to 13 August increased by 8.4% to £95.9m, boosted by strong fish sales.

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