JJB Sports reported like-for-like sales, which include stores that have been open at least a year, rose 5 percent in the four weeks to Dec. 26 . Its cash margin rose 6 percent in the period.

Like-for-like sales for the 21 weeks ended Dec. 26 were down 7.8 percent, although that was still better than a 17.7 percent fall reported for the previous six months. Gross margin was down 3.2 percent in the 21 weeks and decreased 31.7 percent in the first half.

Keith Jones, CEO, said, “Our overall trading has improved in the second half of the financial year and we achieved a Christmas trading performance broadly in line with our expectations in the face of an extremely challenging consumer environment. Looking ahead, the ongoing credit squeeze on consumers and weaker UK employment numbers creates a tough environment. We continue to implement our turnaround aware of the importance of the January sales, European football championships and London Olympics.”