Boots enjoyed its biggest day for digital sales on Black Friday, during a strong festive period driven in part by promotions and positive consumer response to its Christmas campaign.
Early indications suggest Boots notched up comparable Christmas sales growth of around 15%, Walgreens Boots Alliance global CFO James Kehoe told investors on a call today (5 January).
“The Boots consumer responded very favourably to holiday campaigns and promotions,” added CEO Rosalind Brewer.
Boots launched its 2022 festive advert ‘Joy for All’ with the aim of focusing on magic and affordability. The ad achieved an ‘exceptional’ 5.2 rating on System1’s platform. The market research firm uses the emotional response of real people to award adverts a star rating between one and five, as a predictive indicator of the ad’s brand-building ability.
The Boots consumer responded very favourably to holiday campaigns and promotions.
Rosalind Brewer, Walgreens Boots Alliance
At the time of launch, Boots CMO Pete Markey expressed his confidence in the campaign: “We’ve got a formula now such that with our media planning, our approach and re-energising the brand, we can really make Christmas work.”
Focusing online, Boots.com was one of the UK’s top 10 most-visited retail sites on Black Friday 2022. The website accounted for 18% of total sales in the quarter to 30 November, compared to 9% pre-pandemic. In November, almost a quarter (23%) of sales were on the website, boosted by promotions such as Black Friday.
While the brand has been stepping up its digital presence, footfall also improved by 8% compared to the same period in 2021. Kehoe noted the retailer’s travel and flagship locations “again showed robust improvement”.
Key categories such as gifting, beauty and fragrance performed “extremely well” over the festive period, Kehoe added, which is important given Boots’ UK arm makes 40% of its profit in December.
Sales of over-the-counter cold and immunity products also rose, as colds and flu became more common due to winter socialising.
Post-Covid lull in pharmacy
Overall, Boots’ sales grew 4.3% during the three months to 30 November. Comparable retail sales increased by 8.7% off the back of what the business describes as “robust prior year growth” of 16.3%. Boots also grew its market share for the seventh consecutive quarter.
The retailer’s results were, however, weighed down by the pharmaceutical business, which saw a 0.9% decline in sales.
The business attributed this to weaker demand for Covid-19 services compared to the same quarter last year. However, Brewer expressed confidence the core pharmacy business in the UK “remain[s] resilient in challenging operating environments”.
Looking ahead, the business expressed confidence Boots UK will continue to grow in 2023, despite the macroeconomic challenges.
“Our international business, particularly in the UK, has emerged in a competitively strengthened position and is well-positioned for growth,” said Kehoe.