Has this been a good festive shopping season for the fashion sector? The jury’s still out on that one. But the latest figures from John Lewis suggest it’s not been spectacular. It seems consumers aren’t exactly rushing to stock up on the sparkly partywear that’s making almost every fashion store into a twinkling wonderland at the moment.
In the seven days to December 12, fashion sales actually edged down (by 0.4%) with womenswear in particular having a tougher trading week. John Lewis said that was due to the mild weather, which would have dented coats, knits and boots. But isn’t this the time of year when people should be buying climate-neutral party dresses? If the sequin rush hasn’t taken off yet, we’ve only got a few days left for it to happen.
Consumers were obviously getting ready for Christmas in some product areas as jewellery sales rose 15.6%, beauty services were up 9.8% (pre-party facials or maybe beauty gift cards?), and handbags rose 5.4%, which must have been a relief after all the talk of handbag fatigue for much of the year.
Total sales were up 3% but online rose 15%. The latter figure was powered by visits from mobile devices and traffic to apps, which was 43% up on last year. It also gave extra weight to John Lewi’s view that online will be bigger than offline sales by 2019.
So what else sold well apart from jewellery and beauty? The standout success of the week was electricals, up 7.7% on last year, with the communication technology sub-category up 30.5%. Gaming continued its strong run on an astounding 149.3% rise and consumer electronics accessories ended the week up 20.8% with sales of media streaming devices like Apple TV and Google Chromecast up 148%.