Debenhams sales tumble over Christmas as pick-up in traffic online fails to offset steep declines at its shops
- Sales in the UK were 3.6% lower than last year due to weak store footfall
- The retailer saw gross transactions fall 3.8% in the six weeks to January 5
- Over the last 18 weeks, Debenhams online sales improved 4.6 per cent
Management is struggling to stop the rot at ailing department store chain Debenhams, which saw sales slide 3.6 per cent over the all-important Christmas period.
It put the decline over the last six weeks down to weaker store footfall than the same time last year.
Debenhams saw sales slide 3.6 per cent over the all-important Christmas period.
Debenhams insisted that it was seeing improvements online, however, which helped stem some of the decay over the period.
For the last four months of 2018, the fall was steeper – down 6.2 per cent despite a 4.6 per cent surge in ecommerce.
Chief executive Sergio Bucher, who joined from Amazon two years ago, said it was the ‘best possible outcome’ in an uncertain time.
He said: ‘We responded to a significant increase in promotional activity in the market, particularly in key seasonal categories, in order to remain competitive for our customers.
‘We have taken decisive steps to maintain rigorous cost and capital discipline, and I am grateful to my colleagues for their hard work as we maintain a rapid pace of change.’
Debenhams’ share price has withered over the last year as it issued a string of profit warnings and reported the biggest loss in the firm’s history.
Amid speculation of store closures, Bucher reiterated today that he is working to ‘reshape’ the store portfolio, as well as strengthen the firm’s balance sheet.