RETAIL chain WH Smith said today it remained cautious on trading prospects after seeing sales decline in the 10 weeks to November 7.
Total group sales since the start of its financial year on September 1 slid 1% on 2008, while revenues in stores at airports and railway stations fell 2% on a like-for-like basis.
The worst performing sector was the high street, where same-store sales dipped 4%, although the company said its overall performance was in line with expectations.
In a brief trading update, it said it was braced for a challenging festive season.
WH Smith said: "Whilst we remain cautious about the consumer environment and anticipate competitive trading in our markets over the key Christmas period, we have planned accordingly."
Under the leadership of chief executive Kate Swann, the company has reduced its reliance on the highly competitive entertainment market, including CDs and DVDs. It is now focused on its core books, stationery and confectionery markets.
The impact of the recession has seen WH Smith focus on better buying terms, improved product sourcing and greater control of promotional activity.
As a result, it recently reported an 8% rise in profits to £81 million for the year to August 31.