Peak trading figures from Currys today provide an illustration of the extent to which technology shopping has moved online over the pandemic – with ecommerce sales for the peak trading season more than a quarter up on the same period two years earlier, before Covid-19. More widely, sales were ahead of the pre-Covid peak trading period – but were also behind the same time last year, a period when shoppers were pushed online by non-essential store closures.
This year, Currys was faced with supply chain disruption, and says the broader technology market was 10% down on the previous year. It says it has gained market share during a period of “market turbulence” and also says that shoppers have benefited from its transition to a full omnichannel model. But supply chain disruption is set to continue, with some areas where stock availability will be “challenged”, while demand is also expected to remain uncertain.
The retailer, ranked Top50 in RXUK Top500 research, today reports sales for the peak Christmas period – the 10 weeks to January 8 2022 – on a like-for-like basis that strips out the effect of store – and business – openings and closures.
Peak group sales fell 5% on the same time last year, but were 4% ahead of the same period in pre-pandemic 2019/20. Within that, UK sales were 6% behind last year, and 2% behind the year before. Online sales were 29% ahead of the same period in 2019/20, while international online sales were 79% ahead over the same period.
In the year to date – broadly, the first three quarters of the year – group sales were 3% down on last year, but 11% ahead of the year before.
The business now expects pre-tax profits to come in at about £155m – well ahead of the £33m the business then known as Dixons Carphone, reported in the year to May 1 2021.
Alex Baldock, Currys group chief executive, says: “The technology market was challenging this Christmas, with uneven customer demand and supply disruption. Against this backdrop, Currys’ colleagues showed their resilience and the stronger business we’ve built. We gained market share, improved customer satisfaction, traded profitably and can look ahead with confidence.
“Customer demand for some tech was strong. This was a gamers’ Christmas, the year that virtual reality broke into the mainstream and when consoles flew off the shelves.”
He adds: “The stronger business we’ve built was evident in record levels of colleague engagement and customer satisfaction. Customers have enjoyed open stores again, our stronger online business and how (more and more) we can give every customer the benefit of both stores and online.”