Last week (to October 12) was one of two halves in trading terms, according to John Lewis managing director Andy Street.
“From Sunday to Thursday the country enjoyed the last flushes of our Indian summer, which saw our sales continue to flag,” he explained. “However, the change of weather on Friday – to the start of autumn – injected real pace into the business. As a result we finished with a respectable 5% gain on last year.”
Last Friday also saw the opening of High Wycombe as a full-line department store, 25 years after its original debut. The week also saw Exeter celebrate a year of successful trade, and both Oxford Street and Kingston move on in their own refurbishments.
Meanwhile, top scores came from the ‘at home’ shops led by Swindon, Newbury, Tunbridge Wells, Tamworth and Chester. For full-line shops, Milton Keynes, Aberdeen, Brent Cross and Watford led the way. Johnlewis.com registered another solid increase at 16%, and their report revealed the news that the department store group now has over one quarter of a million products online; five times the quantity just four years ago.
In terms of products, electricals did well, with strong demand for all things ‘food preparation’. Andy said: “Our confidence in this market was further underlined with our commitment to a minimum two-year guarantee on all products – a message we are heavily promoting.”
He added: “In Home, optimism for the season ahead came from strong early sales from Christmas Shop.”
Andy concluded: “So, there are now just 10 weeks to Christmas. Distribution centres are busy receiving the stocks, shops are being decked, our marketing and PR is all but ready. My sense is that we are well set, and the coming half term will fire the starting gun.”