House of Fraser Christmas sales rose 6.3% owing to a mad rush among customers for accessories such as handbags and shoes, accelerating online sales up almost 50% in six weeks to January 5, 2013. House of Fraser stores sold handbags at the rate of 40,000 a week, an increase of 16% on a year earlier, while the chain reported weekly sales of men’s and women’s shoes were up 19% to 45,000 pairs a week.
Supermarket chain Morrisons could not adopt a strategy for better Christmas sales posted a bad run to Christmas week where sales dropped by 2%. However, House of Fraser did not make such a mistake. House of Fraser’s strategy to introduce discounts of up to 50% two weeks ahead of Christmas, and investment in the online business paid off with trade up 48%. Fashion and beauty products achieved a 7.5% sales growth, menswear rose 7.4% and fashion accessories were up 17.5%. At peak periods online sales, 35% of which were from mobile devices, were running at one a second.
House brands, such as Biba, continued to do well, with sales up 10% over the period. House of Fraser said the retail environment last year had been tough and it was not clear when it would pick up again. The sales boost will help House of Fraser meet expectations for an 2.4% rise in earnings this year.
The UK shoppers chose to indulge in online shopping over Christmas to avoid the trek to overcrowded shops, with market research company Experian stating that the overall online sales jumped by 27% on Christmas Day. Don McCarthy, Chairman of House of Fraser said that in the competitive environment, the company had benefited from investing in its website, driving its house brands, and positioning itself as a fashion-focused department store.