John Lewis has another tough week, fashion down but new season is strong

Jan 14, 2020
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John Lewis Partnership has been having a turbulent time of it lately, its previous status as an almost-unstoppable retail powerhouse having been seriously damaged by a string of poor sales and profits results. 

John Lewis saw another slow week - Photo: Sandra Halliday

And the weekly figures that it releases every Tuesday haven't offered much respite from this with the latest, covering the seven days up to January 11, showing total company sales down 3.8% to £204.38 million.

And the John Lewis department stores chain was the weakest performer with total sales down 5.8% as the company saw a slowdown in the rate of customers shopping for bargains during the second week of its clearance sale. 

It added that the relatively mild weather also had an impact on sales for the usually buoyant Fashion department and these fell as well. However, there was one piece of good news as the company said it saw strong demand for spring products that began to go on sale in its shops and online last week.

So what was the extent of the fall at the Fashion department? It was down by 1.5%, which wasn’t that bad and within this, sales of womenswear managed to rise 8.7%, driven by a mixture of clearance bargains and demand for new-season own-brand collections. Women’s accessories sales were up 0.6%, which was perhaps a surprise given that this category usually manages a better increase than that.

There was no good news from the heavily under pressure Home department either with sales here falling a fairly hefty 13.6% this time. They were hurt by it annualising a strong competitor promotion which it price-matched. That said, sales of its ‘special buy’ products, which it offers during clearance season, were up 2% on last year and it also saw strong demand for new-season gifts, cook and dine products launched last week. 

Electrical and Home Technology sales were down 2.8% in the week but it saw good demand for hair products.

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