John Lewis has reaffirmed the importance of offering customers choice and convenience, after the number of online shoppers choosing to collect purchases in store during the five weeks to December 27 overtook home delivery for the first time.
The department store chain posted total sales of £777m during the period, up 5.8% on last year and a rise of 4.8% on a like-for-like basis.
Online sales rose by 19% and now represent 36% of the total, up from 32% last year. Transactions from computers and mobile devices accounted for 36% of sales, up from 32% in 2013. Bricks and mortar sales remained flat.
More than half of online shoppers (56%) chose to collect in store, overtaking home delivery over Christmas for the first time; a shift John Lewis said it expects to continue.
It comes after online director Mark Lewis tipped convenience as the “battleground” for sales over the all-important Christmas trading period.
As previously reported, John Lewis said US import Black Friday on November 28, 2014, was the most lucrative day in its 150-year history, with sales up 22% overall and 7.8% for fashion.
John Lewis managing director Andy Street said the five-week results showed the “changing shape of trade” over Christmas. “With Black Friday driving a higher proportion of online sales and customers 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.”
On the bricks and mortar performance, he said: “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.”
He said John Lewis will open a regional flagship in Birmingham in September 2015, as well as two ‘At Home’ shops in Horsham and Basingstoke on an unspecified date during the year.
This morning (January 5) during an interview on Today on Radio 4 Street called for an industry re-think on Black Friday. He argued that the spike in trading over such a short period was not helpful because of the strain it put on retailers to fulfil massive demand and because of the impact on margins from the frenzied discounting.
Street emphasised that the group’s Never Knowingly Undersold policy meant it had to price-match.
Talking about the rise of click-and-collect, Street said the role of the shop was changing but confirmed that John Lewis was committed to opening full-size stores, like the one due to open in Birmingham. He rebutted the interviewer’s suggestion that the store group could open small Argos-type click-and-collect units.
Managing director of Conlumino Neil Saunders said the results highlight John Lewis as one of the businesses coping well with changes to its established trading pattern.
“The success of Christmas 2013 meant that John Lewis went into this festive season against some tough comparatives. However, it has once again delivered a market beating performance with both total and like-for-like sales in strong positive territory.
“To some extent the Black Friday boost came at the expense of sales growth in latter weeks with both Christmas week and the one preceding it seeing sales declines compared to last year.
“That John Lewis had a successful Black Friday is, in part, testament to its strong omnichannel offering and its investment in logistics.
“Without stores that are well invested in and well serviced by staff, it is inevitable that John Lewis’ overall results would have been substantially weaker.”