The John Lewis Partnership has warned that the outlook for the rest of the year remained uncertain due to the broader macroeconomy, with Christmas trade crucial. “The pandemic has brought forward changes in consumer shopping habits which might have taken five years into five months,” chairman Dame Sharon White wrote in a letter to Partners yesterday (Thursday September 17).
The Partnership unveiled its half year results (to the end of July 2020) with the retailer posting a pre-tax loss of £635m (compared to a profit of £192m in the same period in 2019).
However, the company confirmed that at John Lewis, online sales growth was strong at 73%, helping to offset the impact of shop closures – accounting for more than 60% of sales, compared to 40% before the pandemic – with overall sales down 10% on last year.
The retailer also confirmed that sales momentum is starting to build in reopened stores,with sales down around 30% on last year, ahead of expectations. Stores in retail parks are down by around 15% but are doing better than city centres, especially London, which is down around 40%. It was highlighted that working from home has had a big impact on what people are purchasing.
Above: Dame Sharon White, chairman, John Lewis & Partners.
Looking to the second half of the year, Dame Sharon said that the early weeks of trading have been encouraging, and include the launch of John Lewis’ new Home collection, with a bigger revamp set for next Spring. Following the opening of the store’s Christmas shop in July, earlier than in previous years, sales of festive baubles and Christmas trees are already up on last year.
Overall, she said she expected a small loss or profit for the year.
Top: John Lewis & Partners on London’s Oxford Street.