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John Lewis reports on the effect of riots on its business

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John Lewis today became the first major retailer to give an insight into how its financial performance was affected by last week’s riots – and said online appeared to have benefited as customers stayed at home.

The company’s ‘at home’ store in Croydon was broken into on Monday August 8 and was closed for cleaning up on August 9 before reopening on August 10. Takings in many of its stores were down, according to its figures for the week to August 13 compared to the same time last year, most notably in areas affected by riots, such as Leicester (-10.8% on last year), Liverpool (-17.6%), and areas where riots had been feared, including Watford (-14.0%) and Bluewater shopping centre (-8.9%).

But across the group, sales rose by 2% to £52.9m, helped by a 35% rise in online sales through John Lewis said there was evidence of its customers turning to its multichannel operations where they could not or did not want to go to stores. Jonathon Brown, head of online selling at John Lewis, said: “John Lewis online managed to pick up the customers that couldn’t or didn’t get to our shops, as our customers turned to our multi channel offering to help deliver an impressive sales growth of +35 per cent on last year, with a number of areas also seeing significant progress week on week.”

Sales were particularly strong in electricals and home technology, where they were up by 7.8%, while fashion sales rose by 1.8% and homewares were up by 1.5%. “Considering the events of last week on our streets and in the financial markets it was a solid performance across the directorates and channels,” said Brown.

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