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Arnott's and Clery's report strong sales

DEFYING the collapse in consumer confidence shown in last week's CSO data, some big department store names have enjoyed a bumper seasonal selling stint.

"Nothing in retail is easy at the moment -- but we did okay; we were quite happy," Arnotts CEO Nigel Blow said of the critical Christmas and January selling period.

"Year-on-year, for the 24 days up to Christmas we were up five per cent on 2010," Mr Blow reported. "The previous season was down about four per cent, so we basically recovered what we lost in 2010 and also gained a little bit."

"We're going well in the January sale; we'll have a good finish out for our financial year, which ends this month."

"We're all probably a little wary of when sales settle down in February and March, and we're gearing ourselves up for a tough year, but I like to think it won't be as tough as everybody is saying."

Clery's CEO PJ Timmins had warned that survival depended on a Christmas season kiss of life. "We needed that boost and we got it," he told the Sunday Independent. "It was probably one of the best trading periods we've had in a while. It pulled back the year for us and boosted business by several points."

Debenhams reported sales in the five weeks to December 31 were 6.5 per cent higher, and in the 18 weeks to January 7 they rose almost 35 per cent.

BT chief Stephen Sealey declined to comment on how the big selling season had been for his business.

Sunday Indo Business