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Customer Behaviour

WH Smith’s High Street sales have continued to fall, but the bookseller and stationer has had another rise in sales at its travel outlets.

In the 20-week period to 20 January, sales in High Street stores were down 5%, with like-for-like sales falling by 4%, in line with expectations.

The company said this was partly down to fewer spoof humour books being sold compared with the same time last year.

However, total sales in travel were up 7%, with like-for-like sales rising 3%.

Total sales were flat year-on-year and like-for-like sales down 1% over the 20-week period.

Like-for-like sales, a common measure of retailers’ performance, strip out the effect of new store openings.

Efficiency programme

The pattern, both on the High Street and at travel outlets, was unchanged from earlier in 2017. Group chief executive Stephen Clarke said: “Our travel business now accounts for almost two-thirds of the group’s annual profit and we continue to deliver strong sales growth across all our key channels.

“This was driven by ongoing investment in the business and continued growth in passenger numbers in our airport stores over the Christmas period.”

He added that the company’s UK store programme was on track, with 15 new units expected to open this year.

The new large airport stores at Gatwick and Stansted opened during the reporting period and both performed well.

The company will continue with hits cost efficiency programme and expects full-year cost savings to be about £12m, slightly ahead of its target.

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