House of Fraser's Christmas sales jump

Cabs outside a House of Fraser store House of Fraser saw record sales in the two weeks before Christmas

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Department store group House of Fraser has said it enjoyed its "best ever" Christmas sales period.

Like-for-like sales - which ignore new store openings - rose by 6.3% in the 6 weeks to 5 January.

House of Fraser - which operates 60 stores in the UK and Ireland - said sales had risen in all categories, and online sales had jumped by nearly 50%.

Fashion retailer New Look also reported an increase in sales across the festive period.

Group sales were up 4.5% in the 14 weeks to 29 December, while in the UK like-for-like sales climbed 3.7%.

'Challenging' market

House of Fraser said it had seen record sales in the two weeks leading up to Christmas.

While sales were up across the board, it had recorded a "particularly strong performance" from fashion and beauty sales.

House of Fraser chairman Don McCarthy said that 2012 had been "challenging" for retailers, and it remained "difficult to predict" when the economy and consumer confidence would improve.

However, he added that the firm expected to report full-year earnings in line with previous expectations.

Online sales at House of Fraser jumped 48% from a year earlier and this big rise in online trade was echoed at fashion retailer New Look, which said sales over the internet rose by more than 50%.

New Look also said it had enjoyed a "significant" rise in profit margins, thanks to fewer price cuts and "tight management" of stock.

"[New Look] has delivered an excellent result in a challenging trading environment," said chairman Alistair McGeorge.

Last week, department store group John Lewis reported a 13% rise in total sales for the five weeks to the end of December, with internet sales up 44%.

Also last week, Next reported a 3.9% rise in sales from 1 November to Christmas Eve. The retailer also forecast that its full-year profits would be at the top end of expectations.

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