John Lewis expects good Christmas, says festive campaign will be Covid-appropriate
Pippa Wicks, the brand new executive director at John Lewis, is confident that the department store will be able to match last year’s sales performance during the Christmas period despite the ongoing coronavirus uncertainty.
The John Lewis Partnership, which on Thursday reported a pre-tax loss of £635 million for the first six months of the year, is preparing for the festive season already by opening the John Lewis Christmas shop earlier than ever.
And while sales at the department store were down during the first half of the year as consumers prioritised spending on essentials over fashion, the retailer is hoping for a festive recovery.
Speaking about the company’s outlook for the second half, Wicks said the business expects trading across “the whole Christmas period to be the same, if not better” than last year. This is because the group hopes to benefit from the fact that people have more disposable income after spending several months in lockdown. And the recent rollout of click-and-collect services to more locations will offer more convenience to customers, Retail Week reported.
Wicks said: “People will want to be with family and make it special, and that will play into the Christmas spend. People haven’t been on holiday as much this year, they haven’t been travelling as much, so they are saving from normal costs. And I think the self-treat piece will come into the Black Friday experience as they redivert some of that money into some of those products.
“It is a little bit of a crystal ball, this is not a usual year, but for planning purposes we are assuming that Black Friday and peak will be at least as good as last year.”
Homewares and technology sales are expected to drive the boost in the run up to Christmas, while fashion sales are likely to remain more subdued.
“We are gearing up both brands to ensure that families in whatever situation in the pandemic and lockdown can have a great Christmas,” said Sharon White, chair of the John Lewis Partnership.
“This is not naive optimism, it is recognising uncertainty both in terms of the economy and also a possible new lockdown and then planning very actively for customers with great prices, great quality and great value, so they can really celebrate what has been a pretty difficult year.”
The company is working with communications agency Adam & Eve/DDB on a “Covid-appropiate” Christmas campaign that will introduce a modernised brand purpose.
According to business magazine Campaign, the new direction will place greater emphasis on tackling inequality, wellbeing and sustainability.
Sharon White explained in a conference call with journalists: “We already have a purpose, this is about modernising it and making it more customer relevant as well as meeting the needs and aspirations of our partners who are very important constituents in all of this."
The department store, which is dropping its long-running ‘Never knowingly undersold' slogan, has been behind some of the most beloved Christmas adverts in the UK over the past decade.
But before getting into the festive spirit, John Lewis will be launching a home autumn ad campaign. The work will follow a pricing review and "deliver a message about where we are from a value-for-money perspective”, White said.
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