6 Jan 2010

Business group rejects Warehouse sales claim

6:07 am on 6 January 2010

An Auckland business association has rejected claims by listed retailing giant The Warehouse that disappointing figures for the Christmas period probably reflect the situation for all retailers.

The Warehouse says sales across its stores were flat in the nine weeks to 3 January, compared with the same period last year.

It was anticipating a boost in sales as people left their shopping to the last minute. However, chief executive Ian Morrice says the growth in sales did not materialise.

The Warehouse now expects its earnings in the first half of the financial year to be similar to last year's $56.8 million.

The chain, often viewed as a bellwether for the retail sector, had a disappointing lead-up to Christmas and it had hoped sales would get a boost from last-minute shoppers.

But Newmarket Business Association chief executive Cameron Brewer says figures released by Paymark, which monitors Eftpos sales, shows that other retailers enjoyed a buoyant Christmas.

Mr Brewer says the figures show the value of pre-Christmas trade was up more than 4%, while volumes rose more than 6%.

He says The Warehouse sells itself as the place where everyone gets a bargain, but it may be losing out as every second store is now offering goods at bargain prices.