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Waitrose Has Record Christmas as Britons Buy Holiday Luxuries

Dec. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Waitrose Ltd., the upscale grocery chain owned by U.K. retailer John Lewis Partnership Plc, reported record Christmas sales as hard-pressed U.K. consumers splashed out on holiday luxuries.

Revenue at stores open at least a year rose 4.3 percent in the seven weeks ended Dec. 24, Waitrose said today in an e-mailed statement. Total sales increased 7.7 percent, excluding gasoline, while customer numbers climbed 4.5 percent.

Waitrose, the first major U.K. retailer to report Christmas sales, said the last Sunday before the holiday was its busiest day ever as Britons stocked up for the festive meal. Treats such as the Heston from Waitrose Hidden Sauce Figgy Pudding and Christmas chocolate cake were among the biggest sellers.

“The key to our growth this Christmas has been a combination of great value and inspiring, innovative products,” said Managing Director Mark Price. “This has led to increased volumes driving our sales uplift as more people shopped with us and existing customers bought additional items.”

Waitrose has outperformed its larger competitors this year, with Kantar Worldpanel data showing the grocer’s market share rose to 4.5 percent in the 12 weeks ended Nov. 25.

Overall Christmas shopping in the U.K. was similar to last year, according to the British Retail Consortium. Total retail spending for the period probably rose “modestly” on last year, though only in line with inflation, it said.

Online sales at Waitrose rose 37 percent in the seven weeks.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Shannon in London at sshannon4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net

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