Black Friday delivers record week for John Lewis

Thu Dec 3, 2015 7:20pm EST
 
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LONDON (Reuters) - British retailer John Lewis [JLPLC.UL] set a record for weekly sales in the seven days to Nov. 28 after trading was boosted by "Black Friday" discounts both online and in its department stores.

The employee-owned retailer posted sales of 187.7 million pounds ($282.6 million) during the week, it said on Friday, up 4.8 percent from 2014 when the U.S. shopping tradition turned into a retail frenzy with long queues and fights over bargains.

After last year's scuffles, the jump in demand this year for John Lewis and rivals alike came online rather than in shops, with sales on the John Lewis website up 15.5 percent from the same week a year earlier.

The retailer had already said "Black Friday" was its busiest ever single day of trading, a feat shared with online retailer Amazon UK (AMZN.O: Quote) and Dixons Carphone (DC.L: Quote), Britain's largest electrical goods and mobile phone chain.

For sales in British stores, though, Black Friday was a damp squib, accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP said on Friday. Its monthly high street sales tracker recorded a 4.3 percent drop in year-on-year sales for November.

But Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said retailers' margins may well have fared better this year.

"Last year's Black Friday caught many stores off guard and panic discounting played havoc with stock levels, leading to erosion in margin and reputational damage when websites crashed and logistics went awry," said BDO's Michael.

This year, retailers opted for strategic, staggered discounts more closely aligned with stock levels, she said.

"The net result was a fall in sales against a high base, but retailers may well have protected their margins," Michael said.   Continued...

 
Pedestrians walk past a John Lewis store on Oxford Street in central London December 15, 2013. REUTERS/Neil Hall