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Gear4music sees online sales to Europe spike – but UK-focused Waitrose sales are down

Gear4music said today that online sales to Europe spiked in the first full week following the UK’s Brexit decision.

As the pound quickly lost value in response to the shock news that British voters had opted to leave the European Union, European customers flocked to shop on the website. Sales to Europe for the first full week following the EU Referendum grew by almost 200%, compared to the same time last year.

The musical instrument and equipment retailer, a Top150 trader in IRUK Top500 research, said today that it was already seeing high sales to Europe before the referendum. In the week to Sunday June 19, European like-for-like sales rose by 120%. But that figure increased to 191% in the first full week following the result, from Monday June 27 to Sunday July 3. The retailer said the weakening pound was behind that rise in sales. “European sales [were] supported by favourable exchange rates and responsive pricing,” it said in today’s update.

The news came as Gear4music posted its annual report and accounts for the year to February 29. The retailer reported its first set of yearly figures as a stockmarket-listed retailer in May. Then the pureplay said sales of £35.5m were up by 46% during the year, compared to the previous year. UK sales of £26m were 39% up on last time, but European revenue was 73% up.

It said then that investment in developing its platform was paying off. Its ecommerce platform was developed in-house and underpins responsive local language, local currency websites selling in 19 countries. Chief executive Andrew Wass said then that the retailer aimed to become the best of its kind in Europe, and would now “accelerate the development of our systems, websites, logistics, people and product ranges to ensure a continually improving customer experience, as part of our mission to be the best.”

At the same time, however, John Lewis Partnership , the parent company of John Lewis and sister company Waitrose , saw sales fall. This could mean that shoppers held back from buying in a week of uncertainty. Overall sales at the partnership came in at £219.3m in the week to July 2, down by 0.8% on the same time last year. Within that, Waitrose sales fell by 2.8%, though the supermarket said that was to be expected since the equivalent week a year ago was particularly sunny. Instead, sales of wet weather accessories including umbrellas and ponchos were up by 150%, and more people ate in stores.

At John Lewis, an Elite retailer in IRUK Top500 research, the experience was different. Sales of £90.8m were 2.1% up on the same time last year, with fashion sales up by 3.8%. Maggie Porteous, director, shop trade, at John Lewis, said: “Summer Clearance continued to attract customers into John Lewis shops and the cooler weather also played its part, with last week competing with 35°C temperatures during the same week in 2015.”

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