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Tablet sales will be right medicine for Argos

Festive figures from Argos and the owner of Currys and PC World will be the highlight of this week's high street trading updates.

ONLINE: Argos, part of Home Retail Group, launched its own brand tablet in the run up to the key Christmas trading period. Picture: Neil Hall
ONLINE: Argos, part of Home Retail Group, launched its own brand tablet in the run up to the key Christmas trading period. Picture: Neil Hall

Tablet computer sales are likely to have been the driving force once more for Argos and Dixons Retail over Christmas.

After five quarters of rising sales in a row, Argos is expected to maintain record for like-for-like sales growth with third quarter figures on Thursday.

Tablets and computer games consoles are set to have boosted sales growth to 2.5% - an improvement on the 2.3% reported in its first half - following the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One.

Argos - part of Home Retail Group - launched its own-brand tablet, called MyTablet, priced at less than £100 to capitalise on the appeal of the computers.

UBS predicts sales of tablets and games consoles could have risen by 50% over Christmas.

Numis Securities said the third quarter result will be "critical" for Argos' full-year performance .

Currys and PC World parent Dixons Retail, updating on Thursday, is to reveal slowing sales growth as it comes up against tough comparisons from a year earlier after rival Comet's demise.

UBS is forecasting UK like-for-like growth of 3% in the group's third quarter to January 4, down from 12% in the second quarter.

It believes margins will have come under pressure, especially from online price competition.

A flurry of trading updates from housebuilders will confirm that 2013 was another barnstorming year for the sector after the economic recovery and government schemes spurred on a property market revival.

Last year saw the return of queues of would-be buyers desperate to snap up new builds as the Help to Buy initiative and rush of mortgage availability sent demand soaring.

Tomorrow's update from Barratt Developments is likely to see more of the same, with the group recently reporting sales and prices up, with forward private orders 47% higher.

It said last year it had seen buyers queuing for new developments for the first time in years, with some lining up since 4am for a housing scheme in Berkshire and increasing numbers of people trying to buy sites before they have even launched.

The group delivered a 73.7% surge in underlying pre-tax profits to £192.3 million for the year to June 30 - prompting it to announce its first shareholder dividend payment since 2008.

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