David Jones has weak Christmas but see online strength

Australian department stores retailer David Jones had a tough Christmas. The company, which is one of the biggest vendors of high-end European and American brands in the country, saw sales rising only 1% in the half-year to December 23. And they rose just 0.9% on a like-for-like basis.


David Jones


And while it didn’t give a specific figure for the festive period, the company said it had seen “weakening” sales “in line with the rest of the retail market in the final weeks leading up to Christmas.”

That news also means industry watchers are looking out for any update from department stores rival Myer, which is also a major seller of international brands, and which has also endured tough times in recent years.

The weakness at David Jones suggests that many consumers took advantage of early discounts during November to complete much of their Christmas shopping and didn't bother to shop during December.

While we don't know exactly how far sales fell in December, an earlier update that the company had released during November said that sales in the first 20 weeks of the financial year had grown 2.9%. For the late November and December period to have been able to drag that down to nothing more than a 1% increase, suggests a significant downturn in the last few weeks of the first half.

Not that weak consumer sentiment can be entirely blamed. The company also said that disruption from the upgrade works at its Sydney flagship store affected its performance.

But there was good news regarding online sales, which grew a massive 46%. Given that they now represent 7.7% of total sales, it looks like that explosive growth rate could continue as they still lag the percentage of total sales that many department store chains see from their online ops.

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