Black Friday boosts John Lewis

RETAILER John Lewis said it had enjoyed a “market-beating” Christmas, with online sales soaring after more shoppers snapped up gifts over the internet on Black Friday.

The John Lewis store in York

The update indicates that Christmas shopping trends are changing, with growing numbers of consumers buying gifts in late November. Black Friday - which is the day following Thanksgiving in the US - has become the latest American festive “tradition” to be embraced by the UK.

For the five weeks to December 27 2014, total sales at John Lewis were £777m, an increase of 5.8 per cent when compared with last year. The figure also represented a rise of 4.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis. Compared with two years ago, total sales at John Lewis were up 13.4 per cent, while like-for-like sales grew by 12.0 per cent. Online sales for the five weeks were up 19 per cent on last year, with johnlewis.com representing 36 per cent of total John Lewis sales during this period.

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A John Lewis spokesman added: “As we anticipated, the click and collect delivery option is proving to be the delivery means of choice, with 56 per cent of our online orders being collected in shops, overtaking home delivery this Christmas.”

Sales in John Lewis shops for the five weeks remained level with last year.

The spokesman added: “The standout feature, driving a new shape of trade, was our success on Black Friday (November 28).

“This yielded an early sales peak, and impacted the shape of trade over the five-week period. It was the biggest week for sales in our 150 year history and was up 22 per cent on last year, with johnlewis.com experiencing a 300 per cent increase in traffic during the early hours of trading on Black Friday itself.”

Electricals and home technology led the way on Black Friday, and finished with a 6.8 per cent year on year increase for the period.

According to John Lewis, the growing awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle among “time-poor” consumers influenced the gifts bought at Christmas.

Popular gifts included wearable fitness trackers, while cashmere and home fragrance goods also sold well.

Andy Street, the managing director of John Lewis, said: “This year confirmed the new shape of trade for Christmas, with an early peak at the end of November driven by Black Friday and last minute gift buying. With Black Friday driving a higher proportion of online sales, customers are increasingly wanting more convenience. This has meant a real concentration on fulfilment, making this a truly ‘logistics’ Christmas. The investments we have made, and the new capabilities we have built in recent years in distribution and IT, have been fundamental in ensuring we successfully navigate this changing shape of trade. Our shops continue to have a critical role to play in the omnichannel shopping journey, and will be a major development focus for us over the coming months. We will be opening two further “At Home” shops in Horsham and Basingstoke in 2015, as well as our new regional flagship in the heart of Birmingham in September, which will set an exciting new benchmark in bricks and mortar retailing.”

John Lewis, which opened a store in York last year, did not provide a regional breakdown for the figures.