Black Friday boost for John Lewis

This year's John Lewis Christmas advert urging people to show someone they're loved this Christmas.
This year's John Lewis Christmas advert urging people to show someone they're loved this Christmas.
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While some retail experts have declared this year’s Black Friday a damp squib and many retailers have gone as far as scrapping the American concept altogether, John Lewis posted record weekly sales after it was boosted by Black Friday sales online.

The employee-owned retailer set a record for weekly sales in the seven days to November 28 as trading spiked thanks to discounts both online and in its department stores.

John Lewis posted sales of £187.7m during the week, up 4.8 per cent from 2014 when the U.S. shopping tradition turned into a retail frenzy with long queues and fights over bargains.

After last year’s scuffles, the jump in demand this year for John Lewis and rivals alike came online rather than in shops, with sales on the John Lewis website up 15.5 percent from the same week a year earlier.

The retailer had already said “Black Friday” was its busiest ever single day of trading, a feat shared with online retailer Amazon UK and Dixons Carphone, Britain’s largest electrical goods and mobile phone chain.

For sales in British stores, though, Black Friday was a damp squib, accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP said. Its monthly high street sales tracker recorded a 4.3 per cent drop in year-on-year sales for November.

Last year’s Black Friday caught many stores off guard

Sophie Michael, BDO

But Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said retailers’ margins may well have fared better this year.

“Last year’s Black Friday caught many stores off guard and panic discounting played havoc with stock levels, leading to erosion in margin and reputational damage when websites crashed and logistics went awry,” said Ms Michael.

This year, retailers opted for strategic, staggered discounts more closely aligned with stock levels, she said.

Ms Michael added: “The net result was a fall in sales against a high base, but retailers may well have protected their margins.”