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Differentiating the best


Posted At: 08 January 2014 11:51 AM
Related Categories: Administrations, Retail


With a prophetic touch, FSP’s Christmas commentary this time last year ended with “Undoubtedly as more results are published, we will see the strength of those who already recognise that bricks & mortar are as much a support for the online process as profit centres in their own right.”

John Lewis and House of Fraser are crediting an overall increase in sales to online purchases, so it seems the only way is mobile. Interestingly, with like-for-likes up for both retailers, people must be topping up when they collect (although this could be more to do with the obfuscation surrounding like-for-like calculations)

One wonders what sort of doldrums Debenhams might be in without their online sales increasing by 27% in the 17 weeks to December 28th, and contributing 15.6% of their overall sales figure. They’re obviously just playing on swings and roundabouts, with clicks benefiting at the expense of bricks. Or are they just suffering from the squeezed middle whilst House of Fraser benefits from its designer names?

Next, on the other hand, despite also focusing on the middle of the market, is no longer plodding along, ending the year with such a performance that it has raised its profit forecast

These have been the high profile stories so far, so what of the rest? There was a general consensus that Christmas 2013 would be better. With last year’s comparable time finding Christmas Eve on a Monday, with the consequence of last minute shopping before that day being squashed into a mere six hours, achieving something better this year should have almost been inevitable. But some retailers got cold feet and started discounting before Christmas. Did this give them the boost in sales they wanted? Or was it a desperate ploy from those falling further off the pace with each passing day? After all, if you bagged a bargain before Christmas, might you now not be bothered with “sale” shopping again?

We believe that trust has played a big part this Christmas. Shoppers like retailers they can trust to deliver their online purchases, trust that what they have clicked can be collected and trust that the retailer will not renege on the deal by discounting early and devaluing their prized Christmas purchase before true sale time.

John Lewis, House of Fraser, Next and Jigsaw, didn’t betray that trust.

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