John Lewis’s sales fell 2.1% year on year to £151.8m in the seven days to December 10 as the Black Friday promotional event and Christmas Day falling on a Sunday change the “shape of trade” over Christmas.
The company, which has vocalised its concern over Black Friday in the past, was duty bound to the American retail tradition due to its ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ price promise, meaning it has to match promotions on offer at its competitors.
Black Friday resulted in John Lewis’s best ever week of trade in the seven days including the event, but has led to sales suffering since, especially in home technology and electricals. Here, sales were down by 8.3%, with upticks in fashion (of 2.1%) and women’s party wear (7.2%) unable to offset the decline.
Ed Connolly, fashion buying director at John Lewis, explains: “This week’s sales emphasised the different shape of trade for the Christmas period, marked by the peaks of Black Friday and the final week of December. Christmas Day falling on a Sunday this year means that customers have a full extra day shopping and are likely to leave their purchases until the last minute, as we’ve seen in previous years.”
John Lewis is not alone in having Black Friday promotions impact sales. Figures from Nielsen show that money spent in supermarkets fell by 0.4% in the four weeks ending 3 December, a period that includes Black Friday. The volume of goods sold dipped 0.3% year on year.
Similarly, 29% of sales at supermarkets were on promotional items, meaning fewer full-price sales. The value of general merchandise sales also dropped 4.3%, something Mike Watkin, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight, put down to shoppers being distracted by Black Friday offers.
“This was partly a result of shoppers being distracted by heavily advertised Black Friday deals by non-food retailers, particularly online. This meant supermarket trips were more focused on food and drink,” Watkin says.