Last minute Christmas shopping for Apple iPads and lingerie has boosted John Lewis sales by 4.2% year-on-year. (Photo: Reuters)
Last minute Christmas shopping for Apple iPads and lingerie has boosted John Lewis sales by 4.2% year-on-year. (Photo: Reuters)

Last minute Christmas shopping for Apple iPads and lingerie has boosted John Lewis sales by 4.2% year-on-year.

According a statement by Britain's biggest department store group, sales have increased to £164.4m (€196m, $269m) over the last week, following a flurry of last minute festive sales.

In the week to 22 December from a week earlier, John Lewis revealed that Christmas trading had led to a 9.7% rise in sales.

The group added that Apple's iPad is the most popular item this Christmas, with one selling every 10 seconds during the past week, contributing to a 5.6% rise in sales for John Lewis's technology department.

"We also saw an increase in lingerie sets, perhaps reinforcing the stereotype that last-minute gift buying is driven by men," said John Lewis in a statement.

The last minute rush for Christmas presents may not come as surprise to John Lewis after the British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed in a report on 16 December that the retail footfall dropped again in November ahead of the festive rush, as consumers delayed their Christmas spending or turned to the internet instead.

However, the surge in sales is surprising since consumers have been hit by a real terms decline in wages as prices race ahead of pay growth. This has been a problem for the retail sector.

Cutbacks to the government's welfare spending have also left people out of pocket.

"This figure is in line with October, and tallies with recent signs in our sales data that festive spending has got off to a slow but steady start," said Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC.

"While some areas saw an improvement in footfall compared against the previous month, numbers were negative across the board, strengthening the sense that many of us were holding off on major shopping trips until December ushered in the final countdown to Christmas."