January 2, 2014, 2:18 PM

U.K. merchant John Lewis rings up big holiday sales online

For the five weeks ended Dec. 28, e-commerce sales for John Lewis increased 22.7% to $277.5 million (168.7 million pounds) from $226.1 million (137.5 million pounds). In comparison, total sales for John Lewis increased 7.1% to $1.20 billion (734.0 million pounds).

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The online holiday results were jolly for John Lewis Plc, one of Great Britain’s oldest department store chains.

For the five weeks ended Dec. 28:

  • E-commerce sales for John Lewis, No. 13 in the 2013 Europe 500 increased 22.7% to $277.5 million (168.7 million pounds) from $226.1 million (137.5 million pounds).
  • Total sales for John Lewis increased 7.1% to $1.20 billion (730.0 million pounds) from $1.12 billion (680.9 million pounds) in the prior year.
  • Comparable-store sales increased 1.2%.
  • Online sales accounted for 23.1% of all sales for the five-week holiday shopping period compared with 20.2% in the prior year.

More consumers in the United Kingdom used their smartphones and tablet computers connected to the mobile web both to shop online and to find products in John Lewis stores, says managing director Andy Street. “Changing shopping habits were highlighted during December and John Lewis saw its prediction that this year will be the U.K.'s first 'mobile Christmas' come true,” Street says. “On Christmas Day, traffic from mobile phones and tablets made up three-quarters of total traffic, overtaking that from desktops by a considerable margin.”

John Lewis, which carries an online inventory of more than 250,000 products, also says that buy-online, pick-up in store sales, which Europeans often call click-and-collect, increased 61.8%, although no specifc sales figures were released. “The shift to mobile devices for online shopping has been confirmed, but the in-store sale is thriving,” Street says.

John Lewis, which operates about 40 stores in the U.K., didn’t provide details on mobile commerce sales for its five-week holiday shopping period. But this Christmas more shoppers across the U.K. went online from mobile devices, says retail and e-commerce association Interactive Media in Retail Group. On Christmas Day, mobile commerce sales topped $575.2 million (350 million pounds), IMRG says, $1.46 billion (890 million pounds) for the overall holiday shopping season and $887.4 million (540 million pounds) on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas and a national U.K. holiday. IMRG didn’t release any metrics for a year-over-year comparision.

“Mobile device usage really is changing the way we shop, and online always used to be mutually exclusive and not always consistent with the High Street,” says IMRG chief operating officer Andrew McClelland. “Smartphones, accounting for 20% of mobile-enabled sales on retailers’ web sites, really are helping customers shop whilst on the move. Tablets are also accelerating this mobile change.” “High street” is a British term for areas where there are many bricks-and-mortar shops.

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