Waitrose unharmed by Christmas cannibalization

Waitrose unharmed by Christmas cannibalization

In the six weeks leading up to 2 January, British supermarket formula Waitrose's like-for-like turnover dropped 1.4 %, but its online sales grew 7.9 %, resulting in a 1.2 % turnover increase overall.

Online Christmas peak

Waitrose proves it can more than offset the like-for-like turnover drop in physical stores with an online sales increase, as John Lewis Partnership's numbers, Waitrose's parent company, show some remarkable statistics: Waitrose's customers meticulously plan their Christmas shopping and tend to wait until the very last moment to buy. All time slots for home deliveries or local pick-ups were already booked in November. Waitrose turnover peaked in the last two days before Christmas, with a 6 % and 5.5 % turnover increase on 23 and 24 December.

 

Waitrose.com's online turnover grew 7.9 % on average in the six weeks leading up to 2 January, but its Christmas and New Year weeks even peaked at 9.8 % turnover increases. Its specialized websites - including wines, flowers, kitchen appliances, Christmas packages and gifts - grew 28.1 % in this six-week period.

 

40 % of turnover comes from online

John Lewis' department stores also seem to be able to counter the declining offline turnover with online sales. Over the aforementioned six-week period, store turnover dropped 1.2 % as there were fewer customers in the run-in to Christmas. However, customers did go to John Lewis online, as its online turnover grew 21.4 %.

 

40 % of John Lewis' turnover comes from online sales, with a 31 % increase in transactions from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

 

Its click & collect pick-up service grew 16 % in turnover, which means that half of John Lewis' online orders actually gets picked up at the location itself. Remarkable is that 35 % of the online orders at John Lewis is picked up at a local Waitrose store. It has 346 stores (including 256 supermarkets, 62 convenience stores and 28 food specialty stores), which gives it a broader range than the 46 John Lewis stores (including 32 department stores, 12 John Lewis at Home stores and 2 stores at Heathrow airport and St. Pancras train station).

 

Sales draws in store customers

John Lewis is therefore a means to get people to visit Waitrose stores. Its department stores received fewer stores prior to the Christmas period, but attracted a whole lot more after Christmas. In the last week, leading up to 2 January, John Lewis' stores welcomed an additional 16 %. Customers seemingly prefer a store visit if they want to chase sales, which helped John Lewis generate a 23 % turnover increase in the first week of sales.

 

All in all, John Lewis' total turnover grew 6.9 % and its department stores' like-for-like turnover grew 5.1 %. This means that its non-food (John Lewis) branch outperformed its food branch (Waitrose). "This has been a strong Christmas trading period for the Partnership despite the non-food market seeing significant shifts in trade patterns and the grocery market continuing to be challenging" chairman Charlie Mayfield said.

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