Work-life balance has shifted towards life, finds John Lewis report

Tents, air fryers, trampolines and Crocs were among the products that defined the last 12 months, according to this year’s Shop, Live, Look report by John Lewis. The report, which looks back at the products and trends that shaped the year, found that UK consumers adapted to lockdown by redesigning their living spaces to make way for home offices and exercise equipment, such as Peloton bikes. Meanwhile, outside space became the ‘new inside’ as sales of hot tubs, outdoor furniture and accessories soared.

​The way people shop has changed this year, the report found. The website now accounts for between 60% and 70% of the business’ sales, up from 40% before the pandemic. Customers expect flexibility and convenience more than ever before. This is why John Lewis expanded its Click & Collect service to over 1,000 locations and extended its Services division into furniture rental and new financial services products.

Pippa Wicks, executive director at John Lewis, said: “​​The unprecedented events of 2020 and 2021 have left a permanent mark on how we shop, live and look. People have become clearer about what matters to them and their work-life balance has shifted towards life. At John Lewis we’ve seen these changes emerge. We aim to delight, to deliver and to disrupt.”

Make a meal of it
With more time on their hands, homeowners were dressing their tables for dinner every day of the week for no special reason. Sales of coloured dinnerware rose by a third over the year, overtaking demand for white dinnerware. Tablecloth sales increased by 79%, napkins increased by 97% and old school napkin rings increased by 22%. To give the table a finishing touch, candle stick holders were up 13% and candlesticks up 34%. Not only did tablescaping provide a break from the monotony of life but it provided a cheerful focal point to the evening.

TV: the new shop window
With shop windows boarded up or left empty for much of the last year, our TV screens temporarily took their place: they became our shop windows into interesting fashion and lifestyle trends, with viewers adopting the fashion and lifestyle trends they watched on shows such as Friends: The Reunion, Line of Duty and Clarkson’s Farm.

Outside is the new inside
For those lucky enough to have outdoor space, their garden became their sanctuary and entertaining space over lockdown. Gardens were people’s parks, their gyms, their campsites, their festival fields, their outdoor cinemas and extensions of their kitchens and dining rooms. Modular outdoor sofas sold strongly as people lounged outside. Sales of outdoor rugs rose 50%. Fire pits and garden heaters rose by almost 1,000% in October and November 2020 as lockdown rules meant we could only meet outside. Even the terrible British weather – the summer of 2021 was one of the wettest in recent memory – couldn’t stop people doing up their gardens.

Embracing generation rent

This year saw John Lewis launch a furniture rental service with Fat Llama, the peer-to-peer rental marketplace dubbed ‘the Airbnb for things’, offering over 500 products, including beds, desks and bar stools. It’s an affordable and sustainable choice, whether people are furnishing rented accommodation or furnishing a new home that they’ve bought. The response to the furniture rental was extremely positive. 86% of the available products were rented out in the first 48 hours.


What’s new for ‘22?
Future trends predicted by John Lewis Futurologist, John Vary, include:

Together Apart: Online places where we can hang out with friends and family – rather than just talk at a screen – will go mainstream. Going hand-in-hand with this trend will be an increase in the popularity and purchasing of goods that exist only in the digital world.

Nostalgia Tech: It’s easy to feel snow-blinded by the mass of digital content raging around us. What better way to counter this than by harking back to the audio and photographic technologies of old?

Circular Economy: Environmental concerns from the younger generations have been passed to the older ones and we are seeing greater consciousness about our planet in Britain’s households.

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