Mar 6, 2018
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Snow hits John Lewis sales, fashion plunges but cool weather accessories soar

Mar 6, 2018

Britain’s retailers had been expecting bad news on the sales front after the snowy weather last week and it’s now become clear just how much shopping was hurt by the cold snap.

John Lewis

John lewis released its weekly update Tuesday morning and the company, which had turned in some respectable performances in recent weeks, said total sales across its department stores and supermarkets fell 5.1% to £198.02 million.

But while shoppers forced themselves to go to Waitrose to buy essentials (sales there edged up 0.7%), few of them were interested in discretionary items such as fashion.

In fact, even at Waitrose, sales of home and general merchandise dropped 6%. But it was the John Lewis chain where the news was the most disappointing.

Sales there fell a total of 14.4% year-on-year and fashion fell an even worse 18.8%. It seems few were interested in stocking up on spring fashion amid snowdrifts and with temperatures dropping as low as 15 degrees below zero.

Of course, some shoppers couldn’t get to the stores even if they wanted to and while that may have driven many online, the prospect of delayed deliveries due to the weather could also have acted to suppress shopper sentiment.

That said, those who did shop, were very focused on keeping warm. John Lewis said that hat, glove and scarf sales rose 38% and boots rose 36% year-on-year. Meanwhile in electricals, heating products rose 265% and tumble dryer sales also increased.

No surprise that Home sales fell, and by a bigger percentage than recent falls (as much as 17.2%) as outdoor living purchases were put on hold for a while. But customers preparing for Mother's Day and Easter bought seasonal gift food, up 36%, and sweets, up 43% on last year.

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