Dixons says Xmas was slow, new year better

Dixons confirmed the High Street whispers yesterday, reporting a disappointing Christmas but a great start to the New Year as home buyers held on to their wallets until the sales kicked in.

The dominant force in UK electronics retailing said that, year-on-year, Christmas was down 6-7 per cent on 1996, and apportioned a large part of the blame to PCs. Buying patterns may also have been altered by spending income from building society windfalls, the firm speculated. Dixons shares fell 58p to 512p on the news.

However, Dixons maintained that it was on the right tracks, saying sales in its PC World superstores were up 11 per cent for the first half of the year.

"The PC market will continue to grow," said John Clare, Dixons chief executive. "It is underpinned by robust fundamentals such as the use of PCs in education, the development of the Internet, and the increasing trend to working from home."

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