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Selfridges leaves department store rivals in the shade with festive sales rise

Ashley Armstrong
Selfridges store on Oxford Street - Selfridges

Selfridges & Co has put its struggling department store rivals to shame by toasting a 10pc jump in sales over the festive period.

The company, best known for its historic Oxford Street shop, has shrugged off the wider retail gloom by unveiling that its sales accelerated the week before Christmas to rise by 15pc on the year before.

In stark contrast to figures revealing the high street suffered its worst footfall in December for five years, Selfridges revealed that it grew footfall by 6pc over December.

Anne Pitcher, managing director at Selfridges, said the strong sales reflected the brand’s mix of exclusive products and its efforts to lure shoppers by providing different experiences in its shops, such as confetti explosions and a recreation of a traditional London pub and panto at its Oxford Street store.

“Everyone is talking about retail theatre, but Selfridges is much more than a shop - it’s a social place and we want people to remember their trip as unconventional and fun”, Ms Pitcher said.  “It’s a compelling and memorable destination”, she added.

Selfridges in-store parade

The upbeat results leave Debenhams and House of Fraser in the shade after both retailers suffered a heavy slide in sales over Christmas which they blamed on the heavily promotional environment.

Ms Pitcher confirmed that the sales in the month leading up to Christmas were all at full-price.

The department store, which houses luxury fashion and accessory brands, stocked 1,000 exclusive products over the period  such as Manchester gin, advent calendars by upmarket candle brand Diptyque and salted caramel panettone.

Selfridges said that its three-year £300m investment programme will end later this year with a revamp of its Oxford Street accessories hall as make-up fans have driven up beauty sales across the industry.

The department store chain said that it had “recovered very well” from a false terror alert on Black Friday which caused a swift evacuation of shoppers and prompted the shop to shut early, meaning lost sales on one of the most lucrative days of the year.

Singer Olly Murs tweeted about gunshots to nearly 8m followers while in Selfridges although police later confirmed that no shots had been fired.

“It was deeply uncomfortable”, said Picher. “Our first priority was the safety and security of our staff and customers and we were delighted to stand at the doors the next day and welcome customers who were happy to be back into the store.”