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Online growth of more than 40% boosts John Lewis’ first-half sales

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Online sales at John Lewis grew by more than 40% in the first half of its financial year, helping to drive total sales growth by 12.9% over the period.

“We managed to achieve the goal of any omnichannel retailer,” said John Lewis managing director Andy Street, “growth in both shops and online.” That, he said, helped the business to “substantially outperform a slow market”.

Figures released today by the John Lewis Partnership showed sales at johnlewis.com rose by 43.5% during the 26 weeks to July 28.

“All product categories thrived,” said Street, “but most encouraging is the increase in our rate of ‘conversion’, testament to our operation. Improvements in fulfilment have helped and the stand-out result was the doubling of Click & Collect business, thanks largely to the collaboration with Waitrose.”

On the high street, the John Lewis at home format stores, which use digital kiosks and in-store ordering and collection to complement a smaller instore range, showed the strongest growth. Sales at its Poole at home store rose by 26.9% in the half-year with sales up by 26.9%, while the Croydon at home store’s sales rose by 19.1% in the period and the more recently opened Swindon store by 7.8%.

The effects of growth online and in some stores helped to compensate for falling sales at stores from Oxford Street, down by 0.5%, to Milton Keynes (-7.4%) and Cardiff (-2.3%).

Behind the overall sales lift were purchases of electricals and home technology equipment, which grew by 31.8% in the half-year, with fashion sales up by 7.2% and home by 6.2%. “Innovation, quality and value” remained the secret, said Street.

In the final week of the half-year, however, sales growth weakened. Total group sales in the week to July 28 came in at 6.2%, with johnlewis.com recording 34.6% growth. The “softer performance,” said Street, was down to both hot weather and the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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