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How the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way John Lewis shoppers buy – and how the retailer has responded

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John Lewis shoppers turned online this year, opting for the channel when buying gifts, improving the home – and searching for baby goods ahead of next year’s predicted baby boom. 

The department store, ranked Elite in RXUK Top500 research, says in its 2020 Shop Live Look report that between 60% and 70% of its retail sales now take place online – up from 40% before the Covid-19 pandemic hit earlier this year. Mobile and desktop traffic has risen by 55% while traffic from tablets has fallen by 41%.

The shift has taken place as more people work from home in line with Government advice on limiting the spread of the virus, rather than travelling into city centres. Shoppers are now buying online during the working day, from 11am to 4pm, rather than between 7pm and 10pm. They’re buying gifts online – with the number of online orders being sent as gifts up by 55% in 2020, compared to 2019, while online greetings card sales are up by 370%. 

More than 10,000 home design appointments took place both online and in-store as shoppers looked to improve the homes where they now spend much more time. And customers are planning online for future purchases as well, with searches for ‘new baby’ rising by 274% in December. 

John Lewis has responded by launching virtual services – including virtual home design appointments – and improving both the capacity of and access to online services through steps including a significant expansion of click and collect. At the same time, 25% more online orders have been delivered to the home than in 2019. 

Simon Coble, trading director of John Lewis, says: “The world is a very different place than it was in January. This year we stayed in, hunkered down, decked out and spruced up our homes. At John Lewis, we’ve been quick to change the way we help our customers – from the launch of virtual services bringing our Partners’ expertise directly into their homes to offering them more local and convenient places to pick up their Click & Collect purchases. While this extraordinary year is drawing to a close, there are many lessons we’ve learned, from embracing time spent with loved ones to enjoying the simpler things in life which will stay with us for the future.” 

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