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Are the John Lewis sales figures telling us something?

Last week we saw the disclosure of weekly sales figures from John Lewis, one of the U.K.'s bellwethers of the retail sector. Unfortunately, as with the week before, sales were down again at the chain and the company is starting to make noises regarding tough trading in UK retail sector. Even though this is only two weeks of sales figures the fact that the company has seen fit to issue a downbeat statement for the short to medium term is a worry.

Over the last few weeks there have been signs, ahead of the vital Christmas period, that UK retail sales in general were starting to pick up. However, it seems highly unlikely that the sector as a whole will be able to swim against one of the bellwethers of the UK retail sector, i.e. John Lewis. Many retailers in the UK will be on tenterhooks ahead of the Christmas period with one eye on cash flow and one eye on profitability.

Even though we are only just entering the Christmas sales period, if we continue to see downbeat statements and negative sales figures from John Lewis this will increase the tension across the sector and could affect the spending habits of UK consumers. If sales are falling and competition is rising then why, if you're a consumer, would you race out and spend your money when you could buy your products cheaper in just a few weeks time?

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