Multichannel retailing and the department stores – who came out on top this Christmas?

10th January 2014

Recently some multichannel retailing insiders have stated that in the current economic climate shoppers are only looking at price and are searching for bargains rather than luxuries –  but the latest figures from some of the UK’s top department stores over the festive period beg to differ. They are also looking for quality and value for money. One of the main retail winners this season were John Lewis who recorded a 7.2% sales jump to £734m in the Christmas trading period and have now revealed plans to open 25 more stores by 2023, taking their total in the UK to 65.

John Lewis at Westfield

Part of their success is attributed to their very successful ‘Hare and the Bear’ advertising campaign, alongside their committed multichannel retail strategy. For example sales from their website Johnlewis.com accounted for more than 30 percent their total sales during the Christmas period whilst click-and-collect orders were up almost 70 percent from last year.

Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis described his pleasure at the latest sales figures:

“I am extremely pleased with the results of the past five weeks. Our growth of 7.2% is broadly based and we expect to have outperformed the market. It bodes well for trade in 2014.”

In addition to opening more UK stores Street suggest that John Lewis also plan to open their first overseas store and a French website:

“It will still be predominantly a UK brand, let’s be absolutely clear about that. I think we will have moved from taking baby steps to slightly more grown up steps internationally.”

“This Christmas has seen trade take a different shape to previous years, with an early peak driven by Black Friday and a huge surge in the final 10 days…many of the big online shopping days and weeks occurred earlier in the period but shops were packed in the last-minute rush on ‘manic Monday’ (December 23) when we saw our city centre shops record peak days.

“The shift to mobile devices for online shopping has been confirmed but the in-store Sale is well and truly thriving, as shown by the record first day for clearance in our shops on December 27. With new highs in branches as well as for Johnlewis.com, this has been a genuine omnichannel Christmas.”  In

House of Fraser also reported impressive sales for this period, again benefitting from a solid approach to multichannel retail – but in stark contrast Debenhams reported a large slump in profits compared to last year’s sales which saw their Chief Financial Officer and Director, Simon Herrick tender his resignation. According to Retail Week, Debenhams lost out because it has suffered from the spate of discounting which has been occurring recently on the High Street:

“Debenhams customers expect discounting, it is an established part of the proposition and, as such, it likely means that in a promotional environment Debenhams had to work the harder to stimulate customers into buying. Although not the only factor, this was one of the reasons behind a dilution in profits”

Here’s hoping that Debenhams follow John Lewis and House of Frasers lead in 2014 and step up their game, it’s time to embrace new retail methods and adapt to survive if they want to retain their previously coveted position on the high street.


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