John Lewis fashion and beauty sales lifted by markdowns

today Oct 22, 2019
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More discounts helped British retail chain John Lewis post a surge in fashion and beauty sales across its shops and online in the week to 19 October.

John Lewis

The company, which has been battling the same forces that have forced a multitude of retailers to close down, seems to be improving its performance in the run up to Christmas, with total sales increasing by 8.5% last week. The increase came after an 11.9% rise year-on-year a week earlier.

The fashion department enjoyed a stellar 32.1% year-on-year increase in terms of sales volume, with own brand fashion products experiencing a 46% leap. These numbers paint a much more buoyant picture than the performance of John Lewis’ rivals, but what was the reason behind the boost?

On Friday 11 October, John Lewis launched a massive 10-day ‘Fashion Event’ offering up to 20% off across the womenswear, menswear and childrenswear ranges. Last week’s wet weather helped increase sales of boots, up 34% year-on-year, with hiker and biker styles proving particularly popular. Meanwhile, beauty, wellbeing and leisure sales were also up 25.3% as the company price matched a competitor’s promotion.

The increased promotional activity might be helping John Lewis lure customers back to its stores and online site, but the company’s profit margin could end up suffering.

The John Lewis Partnership, which also owns Waitrose & Partners, is already under profit pressure. In the first half of the year, the group reported loss before PB, tax, exceptionals and IFRS 16 of £25.9m, compared to a profit of £0.8m in the prior year.

Beyond the fashion category, the electricals and home technology department reported a 3.7% increase in sales, while a lift in sales of weighted blankets and duvets could not offset a 13.8% decline in home sales.

Sales of Christmas products continued to rise ahead of the festive season, with loose baubles up 20% and toy sales rising 17%.

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