Covid-19: John Lewis reveals spike in online sales

John Lewis has had a 84% growth in online sales year-on-year from mid-March, since the Covid-19 crisis developed, according to the retailer’s Annual Report and Accounts 2020, published today.

At Waitrose, there has been a growth in sales both online and in-store, standing at 8% year-on-year since 26 January. This has primarily been driven by changing consumer buying patterns as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown. The grocer has increased its home delivery capacity by 50% to meet growing demand for this service and the most popular items have been long-life foods such as rice, pasta and frozen foods, as well as home baking and cleaning products.

However, the report showed mixed results for John Lewis. Despite the huge recent spike in eCommerce activity, overall sales have reduced by 17% since mid-March and by 7% since 26 January due to the loss of revenue from the 50 John Lewis stores forced to close.

Its worst-case scenario for the full year is a 35% reduction in sales at John Lewis, and 5% at Waitrose. Nevertheless, it remains confident of coming through the Covid-19 pandemic, and said it has taken a number of steps to preserve liquidity.

Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership stated: “We are confident that the future of the business is strong. Our short term trading has though been significantly affected, principally because of the closure of all 50 John Lewis branches. John Lewis online remains open – providing essential goods and services to enable customers to live well at home – and online sales are substantially up on last year. But it has not been enough to offset the loss of shop trade. Demand at Waitrose has risen sharply but operating costs have increased too, especially as we have expanded online delivery.”

In the trading update, White also highlighted some of the measures it has taken to help the most vulnerable customers get essential supplies during this period.