The boss of John Lewis – one of the UK's most vocal supporters of Black Friday – has urged other retailers to “play it down” in future years after the sales bonanza led to havoc on the high street.
Although the business reported record sales for the week in which Black Friday (November 28) fell – its biggest week in its 150-year history – managing director Andy Street said John Lewis' profits would not necessarily follow suit, with margins taking the hit from the heavy discounting.
He told the BBC Black Friday had been “more challenging profitability-wise”, adding: “We've got to ask if it's right to concentrate trade so much in that one period.”
Street went on to tell the Guardian it was “not in the interests of retailers to continue to grow the pace of Black Friday at the expense of other weeks”. In particular, he said fashion retailers should “play it down” next year, leaving the day to be focused on electrical products.
John Lewis has had to participate in Black Friday as a consequence of its Never Knowingly Undersold commitment.
As a result, Street said the US import had created a “new shape of trade for Christmas, with an early peak at the end of November” as well as the traditional last-minute rush.
For the five weeks to December 27, total sales rose 5.8 per cent to £777m, up 4.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis. Online sales were particularly strong, rising 19 per cent, with johnlewis.com accounting for 36 per cent of total takings, up from 32 per cent last year.
Click and collect accounted for 56 per cent of online orders.
Although in-store sales were flat, John Lewis said “the importance of our shops in the omnichannel journey was confirmed as a place of inspiration and customer collection”.