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John Lewis sales up 6.9% over Christmas amid 'shifting pattern of trade'

Sales at John Lewis rose by 6.9% to £951.3m for the six weeks to January 2, compared to the same period the year before. Like-for-likes were up 5.1%.

John Lewis Oxford Street at Christmas

John Lewis Oxford Street at Christmas

Fashion sales at the department store chain increased by 6.1% on the previous year.

John Lewis said the pattern of trade has “shifted significantly” and is now characterised by three distinct sales peaks – Black Friday, Christmas and clearance – with higher sales and a different channel mix for each peak.

Sales in stores for the six-week period were down 1.2%, reflecting lower footfall pre-Christmas, but were up 16.2% during the first week of clearance (ending January 2).

Online sales grew by 21.4% compared to last year, representing 40% of the total. Mobile continued to be the fastest-growing channel, with sales from smartphones and tablets up 31%.

Sales through click-and-collect were up 16%, and accounted for half of all online orders.

John Lewis said it had enjoyed a “successful start” to its clearance period, with sales across stores and online up 23% for the week ending January 2.

Total sales at the John Lewis Partnership, including Waitrose, rose 4.1% to £1.8bn.

The group’s expectations for profit before partnership bonus, tax and exceptionals for the year ending January 30 2016 remains unchanged at between £270m and £320m, compared to £342.7m last year.

JLP chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said: “This has been a strong Christmas trading period for the partnership despite the non-food market seeing significant shifts in trade patterns and the grocery market continuing to be challenging.

“John Lewis achieved another very strong sales performance with impressive growth across all three categories of fashion, home and technology.

“Click-and-collect continued to show the strength of our two brands working together as a proposition for customers, with 35% of John Lewis online orders collected from Waitrose branches. I was particularly pleased to see overall customer numbers increase 5.8% against the same period last year.

“Our performance reflects to a large extent the significant investment we have made in our distribution and IT capability. Despite the fact trade was even more concentrated across a number of very busy shopping days, our operations performed especially well.

“Our strong Christmas trading performance gives us further confidence in the guidance provided at our interim results in September. This guidance reflected both good operational progress but also an increase of approximately £60m in pension charges as a result of market driven volatility. Our guidance therefore remains unchanged.”

JLP will report its full year results on March 10.

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