The British high street is set to receive a boost this Christmas from the booming online retail sector.
The popularity of the “click and collect” service has seen the two previously rival sectors join forces to push up festive profits.
The service allows shoppers to purchase goods from a shop’s website, often at reduced prices, and collect them from their nearest outlet or from other local shops.
In a market dominated by special offers, two-thirds of high street shops are already offering discounts in the run-up to Christmas, averaging at least a third off, according to Price- waterhouseCoopers.
Michael Weedon, deputy chief executive and communications director of the British Independent Retailers Association, has praised click and collect as “the perfect answer to the high street”.
He said: “It gets the customer into the shop, and the thing we’ve seen under pressure through the whole of this year is footfall. It’s odd that it has taken this long to take off.
“Internet shopping is a sales channel, but it’s not a fulfilment channel. The shop is both things; sales and fulfilment.
“The internet is a brilliant way of selling things 24 hours a day worldwide, but it is not a fulfilment channel. Bringing these two things together makes what’s available in the shop available online 24/7, and promises footfall for the future.”
John Lewis allows customers to collect purchases from either its department stores or Waitrose supermarkets, and has staggered its Christmas sale to begin online at 5pm on Christmas Eve, crossing over into shops on 27 December.
A spokeswoman for John Lewis said: “The earlier start for online is something we’ve been doing for a number of years in response to customer demand.”
Last week, the retailer saw sales soar by a record 11.1 per cent on the same week last year, reaching £147.8 million.