John Lewis sales: cooler weather boosts fashion but beauty struggles
Is John Lewis’s fashion dip of recent weeks at an end? It could be, despite the weekly figures it issued Tuesday looking bad on the surface, fashion does seem to have staged something of a recovery on the back of cooler UK weather.
But first some context. The UK fashion sector in general has continued its October malaise both in-store and online in the first half of November and John Lewis’s weekly figures have illustrated that better than any. The chain may just have been named one of the UK’s favourite stores and may have seen fashion sales rising almost every week so far this year, but it has had a dismal few weeks on the fashion front.
So what happened last week? Well, in the seven days to November 18, total sales for the store managed to rise only a tiny 0.3% to £114.51 million. With inflation taken into account, that means a real-terms sales fall.
‘Fashion’ sales, which also take in the firm’s beauty department were down 3.8%. So more bad news then. But hang on a minute - that fall was “due to changes in annual competitor promotions which particularly impacted sales of beauty products.” Now, that’s worrying news in itself as beauty should be booming at this time of year. But at least there’s a nugget of hope with the company saying clothing sales were up 3.6% “due to the colder weather which helped increase cashmere sales by 8% year on year.”
Of course the problem for the store is that it could continue to be impacted by competitor promotions for the rest of the year as its price-match policy means a promise to cut prices to competitor levels at any given point. That might boost sales but will hurt margins.
And fashion isn’t the only area that has been weak. The Home directory has struggled fro much of the year and in the latest week its sales were down 1.4%.
But customers beginning to prepare for Christmas took advantage of promotions on Le Creuset, beds and furniture. And also on the bright side, sales of tree decorations were up 8% and it saw a second strong week of sales of Moz The Monster products linked to its Christmas advert.
Also good, Electrical and Home Technology sales were up 7.8%. Customers took advantage of early Black Friday deals which it price-matched, and smartphone sales were also strong as customers purchased the new iPhone X.
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