Argos sales boosted by tablet computers

Argos store
Image caption More than 40% of Argos sales are now online

Sales at Argos have been boosted by strong demand for tablet computers, according to its parent company Home Retail Group.

The group, which also owns Homebase, said like-for-like sales at Argos stores in the past eight weeks were up 5.2% on the same period last year.

In contrast, Homebase saw its sales continue to fall.

The group said it now expected pre-tax profits for the year to hit £90m. In response, its shares rose 10%.

As recently as January, it said it expected full-year profits to total £83m. It will announce its full-year results in May.

Comet closure

"Consumer electronics continued to deliver an improved sales performance, driven by strong growth in tablets, which together with further growth in white goods and core electricals, more than offset weaker trading in homewares," Home Retail Group said in its statement.

Analysts suggest the demise of rival electronics and white goods retailer Comet, which entered administration in November last year, has helped boost Argos sales significantly.

"Nevertheless, the retailer also deserves credit for ensuring it is better placed to capitalise on these displaced consumers," said Matt Piner, research director at retail consultancy Conlumino.

"The last 12 months have seen consumers really embrace shopping across different channels and, in particular, utilising the convenience of 'click and collect' services."

Online shopping, which includes click-and-collect and home delivery, now accounts for more than 40% of Argos's sales.

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