John Lewis expects bumper trade in the final days before Christmas as shoppers rush to stores to pick up last-minute gifts.
High street bellwether John Lewis, which reported a 3% rise in weekly sales to £155.2m for the week to December 12, said it was continuing to report strong trade in the days leading up to Christmas.
John Lewis retail director Mark Lewis told Retail Week: “The overall trend is a continuation of the numbers we’ve pushed out. We are seeing that Christmas is buoyant, we were 3% up last week on the same week a year ago. We’re expecting to be reporting another buoyant week this week. As Christmas falls on a Friday we have got a big full weekend ahead of us… and indeed early next week too.”
Lewis said he expects the stores to be busy over the forthcoming days, but added that customers would also shop online and make click-and-collect purchases.
Asked whether he expects it to be a record Christmas for John Lewis this year, Lewis responded: “We’re up 3% on last year so we’re confident that we’re doing well and confident of outperforming the market.”
However, not all retailers were feeling optimistic. Analysts and retailers said the disruption of Black Friday, mild weather and the Paris terrorist attacks, could create a “slower build” to spending as Christmas approaches. Fashion chain Bonmarché issued a shock profit warning this week following challenging marketing conditions.
Lewis said it had noted an upswing in sales from “people getting their houses ready for Christmas”, with customers snapping spare beds and matresses. He said this strong performance would switch into gifting as consumers hunt for last-minute presents. Lego and Star Wars-related products, and beauty and electricals categories had performed well recently.
The retailer, which earlier this year introduced a £2 charge for click-and-collect orders less than £30, had noticed that customers were choosing to consolidate orders instead of placing two small orders.
Another trend the retailer noted was a “dramatic” increase in customers shopping from their mobile. Traffic to its app grew 43% year on year.
“We’re seeing customers use their mobiles in store,” said Lewis. ”Quite often they have done their research and then it’s not uncommon for them to show a product to a member of staff and ask where it is, they also use it to scan items and get ratings and reviews.”
The John Lewis clearance sale kicks off at 5pm on Christmas Eve.