Online shoppers boost Christmas sales for John Lewis

Online shopping accounted for 36% of all John Lewis sales over the 2014 Christmas period

John Lewis saw a significant increase in online shopping over the 2014 Christmas period, with 36% of all sales being conducted through its website.

The retailer reported a 19% increase in the use of online channels compared with the previous year, with over half of online orders being collected in-store via the click and collect option rather than home delivery.

Total sales during the five weeks to 27 December 2014 rose by 4.8%, with the Black Friday discount weekend in November contributing £777m to the increase.

Meanwhile, sales in shops remained at a similar level to 2013, meaning online channels were largely responsible for boosting sales figures for Christmas 2014.   

The Black Friday discount weekend, which is an American convention only recently adopted widely by the UK, resulted in the biggest week for sales in John Lewis’s 150-year history. Sales were up by 22% on the same weekend the previous year and the John Lewis website saw a 300% increase in traffic.

Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, said 2014 demonstrated a new way of Christmas shopping, with sales peaks at the end of November during Black Friday in addition to the traditional last-minute gift buying.

In its five-week sales update, the retailer said its operations, from shops and online to fulfilment centres and delivery, coped admirably during the peaks of the Christmas period.

“With Black Friday driving a higher proportion of online sales and customers increasingly wanting more convenience, this has meant a real concentration on fulfilment, making this a truly ‘logistics Christmas’. The investments we have made and the new capabilities we have built in recent years in distribution and IT have been fundamental in ensuring we successfully navigate this changing shape of trade,” it stated.

The same cannot be said for some other retailers, which struggled with demand over the Christmas period.

Sainsbury’s and Waitrose came under fire close to the big day, as both retailers experienced IT glitches on their websites which resulted in the cancellation of Christmas deliveries for customers.

Asda, Marks & Spencer and delivery company Yodel also suffered technical difficulties and fulfilment centres that couldn’t cope with high demand.

IDC Retail Insights senior research analyst for Europe Miya Knights said the problem stemmed from retailers not being prepared for more people than ever being online.

“It’s a matter of not planning for the capacity, and that’s no excuse. They knew this year was going to be massive and unfortunately they’ve been ill-prepared,” said Knights. 

“Particularly with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is something they’ve chosen to adopt and market heavily, not being able to meet that capacity and demand, from a customer perspective, is unacceptable,” she added.

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