Black Friday breaks UK records helping John Lewis to highest ever weekly sales

Black Friday sales bargains helped lift John Lewis to its highest ever weekly sales as industry figures suggest it could surpass Boxing Day as the biggest shopping day of the year.

Figures released by John Lewis showed sales were up 21.8% compared to last year to £179.1m and up 56.8% compared to the previous week. This surpassed the retailer’s previous sales record of £164.4m, which was set during the week before Christmas last year.

Online sales also hit a record high, up 42.2% year on year, while a number of stores including Oxford Street, York, Liverpool and Ipswich all achieved record takings. Sales across electricals were particularly high, rising 40.9%, with John Lewis selling one tablet every second while fashion also performed well, posting its highest ever single days’ sales on Black Friday.

Dino Rocos, operations director at John Lewis, says: “There was clearly huge customer anticipation of Black Friday this year and we knew we had high expectations to meet, both in terms of the products we had on offer through our Never Knowingly Undersold commitment, and in ensuring that we fulfilled customer orders as promised.”

Online and offline sales

John Lewis was among retailers to heavily advertise Black Friday this year in print and on social media.

This led to interest in Black Friday reaching a peak this year as UK retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Argos joined their US counterparts Amazon, Apple and Wal-Mart’s Asda in offering cut-price deals on a range of goods. Internet retail research company IMRG estimates that £810m was spent online by British shoppers on Black Friday, an increase of 26% compared to last year and making it the busiest online shopping day ever.

IMRG estimates that once stores sales are taken into account, Black Friday could be the biggest shopping day of the year, overtaking Boxing Day.

Asda says Black Friday was “triple the success” of last year, with 2 million transactions taking place in the first six hours of the day, making it the busiest single day of trading for the supermarket so far this year. Amazon also said Black Friday was its busiest day on record in the UK, with its website seeing 5.5 million transactions throughout the day.

Xavier Garambois, vice president of EU retail at Amazon, says: “This year really has surpassed all of our expectations. The public’s appetite for Black Friday has been bigger than ever, kicking off the Christmas shopping period in earnest and establishing Black Friday as a fixture on the UK Christmas shopping calendar.”

Dent to profit margins

However, retail analysts have warned that despite the record-breaking sales, retailers might not see the full benefit as profit margins are hit.

Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb told the Financial Times: “All Black Friday is likely to do is bring forward business from December, reduce gross margins and undermine consumers’ willingness to pay full-price again before Xmas.”

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