Promotions boost Debenhams sales, but shares retreat

<p>Debenhams sales rose in December, but the department store is not optimistic about 2013.</p>

Debenhams has reported that its December sales were boosted by successful promotions, but shares in the department store chain have lost ground in trading this morning (January 8th), as the company stated the coming 12 months will be challenging.

Like-for-like sales over the 31-day period rose by five per cent, which is much more promising than the British Retail Consortium's 0.3 per cent figure for the sector overall, while sales in the 18 weeks to January 5th for Debenhams climbed by 2.9 per cent – with online soaring by 39 per cent.

But the group has warned that there is not much chance of an upturn in consumer confidence or sales in 2013, citing the "extremely challenging" environment the UK high street is battling with.

Chief executive Michael Sharp commented: "We continue to believe that whilst consumers have become acclimatised to the new economic reality, we don't anticipate a significant change in consumer confidence in the remainder of the year."

At 09:55 GMT, shares in Debenhams on the London Stock Exchange fell by 5.5 per cent to 110.60p per share.

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