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Queen's death won't further weaken retail market, says John Lewis boss

·1-min read
People walk past a temporarily closed John Lewis department store on Oxford Street in London

LONDON (Reuters) - The boss of Britain's John Lewis Partnership said on Thursday she did not think the death of Queen Elizabeth would worsen already weak retail and consumer markets.

"I don't think so," Sharon White, the former Treasury official who chairs the partnership, told reporters after the owner of John Lewis department stores and the upmarket Waitrose supermarket chain reported first half results.

She said the biggest drag on consumer sentiment was soaring energy bills.

However, she said that had been alleviated by new Prime Minister Liz Truss's move last week to cap energy bills for two years.

"(That) takes out quite a lot of the uncertainty and anxiety that has been sort of suppressing consumer sentiment in the market," she said. "I would expect that to have quite a profound impact."

Pippa Wicks, executive director for the department store division, said the partnership's consumer research had shown that people want to stay more connected with family and friends than ever before.

"The passing of the queen has made that come into more starker light. That will play into how people want to think about Christmas," she said.

Some economists have said Britain's period of national mourning and a bank holiday for the queen's funeral could impact short-term economic activity - as it did when Princess Diana died in 1997.

(Reporting by James Davey, editing by Elizabeth Piper)