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John Lewis and Waitrose report online sales rise this Christmas

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Online sales at John Lewis rose by more than a quarter over the Christmas period. The department store, whose advert featuring a boy who cannot wait to give his present on Christmas morning has now been viewed more than 3.9m times on YouTube, today said ecommerce sales rose by more than 27.9% in the five weeks to December 31.

In a trading update the company also said its online sales had now topped £600m for its financial year to date, which runs until the end of January.

Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, said: “The strength of our online operation was very much in evidence during this key five week period, confirming our strength as a pre-eminent multichannel retailer.”

He said that customers’ use of Click and Collect operations to buy online from John Lewis and collect from 129 John Lewis and Waitrose stores, rose by 90% in the period.

Street hailed as “outstanding” the department store’s sales across all channels in the four weeks to Christmas Eve. Total sales in the five weeks to December 31 were £596m, 9.3% up on the same time last year. Figures peaked in the week to December 17 when John Lewis took £133.1m in total. The following week, to December 24, £124.7m was spent, 32.7% up on the same time last year. But sales in the final week, to December 31, were down by 4.8% on last year, at £101.3m.

Street said: “The first week of Clearance saw a very strong start, but against the pre-VAT increase week in 2010, it was always going to be a challenge to match sales, particularly with ‘big ticket’ items.”

Meanwhile, John Lewis sister company Waitrose supermarket reported: “its strongest online Christmas yet.” sales were up by 49%, with orders up by 68%, in the seven days before Christmas. Online wine sales more than doubled and flower sales were up by 79% compared to the same time last year. The strong online sales contributed to a 9.5% lift for grocery sales at Waitrose in December. On a like-for-like basis, total grocery sales were up by 3.8%.

However, according to Cliona Lynch, senior retail analyst at Verdict, Waitrose sales rose thanks to a consumer wish to trade up. “This is particularly evident at Christmas where entertaining friends and family with indulgent foods is a priority,” she said. “Consumers increased spend on entertaining at home to compensate for less disposable income in dining out over the festive season.”

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