John Lewis boss Andy Street has predicted Black Friday will be bigger than last year and said convenience will be king this Christmas.
Street said: “Black Friday was huge and I’m convinced it will be even bigger this year.”
John Lewis online director Mark Lewis said Black Friday, the discounting phenomenon which began in the US and is used to kick start Christmas shopping, “moved the season earlier” for the department store group last year. He said it was John Lewis’ biggest ever day online, and twice as big as the previous record.
He said between 7-8am on Black Friday last year traffic was “14 times more than anything we’d seen before”.
Street said he was “quietly optimistic” about John Lewis having a strong Christmas. However he expressed caution over John Lewis’ tough comparables. “It is a bit daunting when one looks back on the numbers from last year,” he said. John Lewis reported like-for-like growth of 6.9% last Christmas.
Convenience will be the battleground
Street predicted a “click and collect Christmas”, and forecast that more than half of online sales would be picked up rather than delivered to home. He said online sales will make up about a third of the total, up from 31.8% last Christmas. He predicted Monday the 22nd would be the biggest shopping day overall.
Street said that retail is going through “vast change” as it responds to changing shopping habits. “Customers are expecting a greater choice of how to shop,” he said. “Our job is to make it easy, to provide shoppers with ways they’d like to shop.”
Lewis said “convenience will be the battleground”. He said the retailer has been investing in its fulfillment offer, including pushing back the cut off for next-day delivery to 8pm and improving communication to customers, including texting shoppers to offer a one-hour window and also the name of the delivery person.
“Customers want their shopping to be wrapped around their lifestyle,” said Lewis. “We’re putting control into the hands of the customer.”
Street warned of the impact of the warm autumn that Next revealed this morning had knocked its sales.
While Street said underlying consumer confidence is “definitely better than last year”, he believes “weather has a greater effect [on sales] than economic numbers, we’ve known that forever”.
John Lewis buying and brand director Paula Nickolds said that while the warm weather has already sparked discounting on the high street, if the expected wintery weather hits next week, discounting should “ease”. However she added: “If not [the high street] will be in continuous discounting until Christmas.”
She added that tablets would prove a big hit again this Christmas, but that the “emerging trend” is wearable technology.
£13m Oxford Street revamp
John Lewis retail director Andrew Murphy said the retailer will invest £13m in its Oxford Street flagship next year as it looks to “create a world class home offer”. He said John Lewis wants to create an “inspiring, relevant and friendly shopping environment” across the 100,000 sq ft home floor, and added it would be “visually inspiring”.