John Lewis saw its biggest week ever in Black Friday week – and says that the stand-out success of the week was the performance of distribution teams who processed 18% more parcels over the course of the Black Friday weekend than they did at the same time last year.
The department store, an Elite retailer in the IRUK Top500, said during Black Friday and the following Saturday and Sunday those teams were processing orders at the equivalent rate of five per second. That boost came as John Lewis reported sales for the week of £187.7m, its biggest ever single sales week. Online sales on johnlewis.com were up by 15.5%, with total sales up by 4.8%. The John Lewis Partnership said in half-year results out in September that logistics would be the issue to it to get right for this year’s Black Friday. “Black Friday and Christmas will again be defined by the importance of logistics and operational excellence, coupled with ensuring our shops remain the ‘must visit’ destination on the high street,” it said in that statement.
This week Dino Rocos, operations director at John Lewis said: “Black Friday marks the first of the three peaks of Christmas and there was huge anticipation for the day this year and high expectations to meet. I’m very proud of the fact that we delivered successfully for our customers, this is testament to work of our partners both on Black Friday itself and in our forward-planning.
“Looking ahead, our teams in our shops and online operations are ready for another busy week as we go into the first full week of December.”
The update from the department store comes as delivery management software business MetaPack said that, by its analysis, 92% of parcels were delivered on time over the Black Friday weekend. That was up from 73% at the same time last year, and compares favourably with on-time deliveries averaging 93% over the previous six months. MetaPack says that overall, orders were up by 45% over the course of the weekend, with 26% of orders going to overseas destinations. The largest number of overseas orders were shipped to the United States.
Patrick Wall, chief executive at MetaPack, said: “Many records were broken over the Black Friday weekend, but more importantly it was the fast and efficient response of the retail and logistics industries that proved most signfiicant.
“Thanks to the depth of preparation made by both retailers and carriers, the sharing of forecasts and the adoption of multi-carrier contracts to cover the period, retailers were able to manage capacity and worked in tandem with carriers to clear orders.”
However, Argos issued an apology via its Facebook page as a result of delays to Fast Track deliveries over the Black Friday period. “We’re really sorry for the delays in getting through to customer services,” it wrote. “Our Black Friday event and new Fast Track delivery service have been hugely popular and are keeping the team really busy; we have added extra staff and they are working through calls, emails and social posts as fast as possible. Thanks for your patience.”
Meanwhile CollectPlus warns that Black Friday returns will peak today, on ‘Back Friday’ as shoppers change their minds about up to 31% of their online buys this Christmas. It says returns are likely to be 20% ahead of the average of the previous four Fridays and that the most returned items will be fashion items, accounting for 46% of returns, followed by electronics and technology (20%).
Neil Ashworth, chief executive of CollectPlus, said: “This year retailers worked across the entire supply chain to plan effectively for the fulfilment of orders made on Black Friday. With the volume of items being sent back it’s important that they have planned a strategy to deal with returns in the same way. Shoppers expect to be quickly and easily reimbursed for online shopping and any delays in the process can lead to delays in repurchase and avoidable stress for the customer and the retailer’s staff.”