John Lewis hails multichannel as key to Christmas success

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Multichannel retailer John Lewis says its annual ecommerce sales have passed the half-billion milestone for the first time.

In the year to date, it reported in a Christmas trading statement issued today, its online sales have now hit £500m. And in the five weeks to January 1 they were up by 42% compared to the same time last year.

Total sales in the period hit £545m, 8.9% up on last year, with like-for-like sales growing by 7.6%.

Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, hailed “outstanding” Christmas and Clearance sales in which its multichannel capabilities had played an important part. The Christmas period also saw new records set for the biggest week (£121m) and biggest day (£27.8m).

“Our success,” said Street, “confirms our strength as a multichannel retailer.”

He continued: “This capability was particularly important during the adverse weather. Online sales soared during the first snowfall as customers struggled to get to the shops. When the weather turned for a second time closer to Christmas, shoppers wanted the reassurance of having their goods in their hands and our shops saw sales surge as a result.”

Our view: Around them retailers are complaining of the way snow hit their trade in the run up to Christmas – and doubtless more will join them. Yet somehow, John Lewis has pulled a rabbit out of the hat and produced record-setting festive results, both instore and online despite heavy snowfalls. How? The department store says its success is at least in part down to its multichannel strategy, while its Never Knowingly Undersold guarantee also helps.

Certainly its reputation for reliability will have helped when it came to persuading shoppers to take the chance that goods ordered online would be delivered. But no doubt it also helps that many John Lewis stores are in indoor malls which have proved more comfortable to get to and shop in when temperatures are cold.

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