Nov 26, 2019
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John Lewis sales plunge as late Black Friday skews comparisons

Nov 26, 2019

John Lewis Partnership had ‘bad’ news on Tuesday. Despite the launch of the company’s much-heralded Christmas ad campaign, it said that overall sales fell more than 28% in the seven days to November 23, dropping to £272.2 million.

John Lewis fashion sales suffered from a calendar shift - Sandra Halliday

And the news from the John Lewis department stores chain was even worse with a 43.3% plunge. But hold on… was the performance really that bad? Well, of course not. We have to take into account that last year, Black Friday came a week earlier in the month rather than right at the end of the month as is happening this time.

That means the figures were being compared directly to just about the biggest promotional few days of the year and were always going to come off badly up against that metric. It should also mean that this time next week, the company will announce a sales surge for the previous seven days.

So what exactly happened last week? The company said its “performance exceeded expectations with the scheduled launch of Black Friday deals towards the end of the week”. Sales were up 30% compared to the week before Black Friday last year and reflected the fact that so many retailers were launching BF deals early.

The retailer has now launched hundreds of them across a range of categories, including fragrance, technology, home, nursery, and toys and said “we are already seeing positive pick-up of these deals”. For the Black Friday period, it’s also lowering thousands of prices of individual products to match physical store competitors’ deals as part of its Never Knowingly Undersold price promise. That means there’s likely to be attractive pricing on fashion product too.

But for the week in question, Fashion suffered with the overall department’s sales down 42.4%. However it saw demand for Beauty, Wellbeing and Leisure products as it price-matched competitor promotions.

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