IT WAS the Christmas advert to end all Christmas adverts – a heart-rending tale of a boy called Sam and his lovesick toy penguin, Monty.
Christmas sales figures have shown that John Lewis’s festive plug was a resounding success, with sales up by almost 5 per cent from last year over the five-week Christmas retailing period.
The department store said sales over the period were £777 million, up 4.8 per cent compared with last year and 13.4 per cent higher than the same time two years ago.
But the chain, which has three branches in Scotland and has been in operation for 150 years, said this Christmas had hailed a “changing shape of trade” for the retail industry as sales in its stores remained flat, with the growth driven by online retailing and in particular, its “click and collect” service.
Retail experts said that consumers are demanding instant access to goods they have purchased – with home delivery increasingly regarded as an inconvenient option. A report issued last month by retailer Argos found that 6 per cent of people said they planned to use click and collect services to do their Christmas shopping.
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The click and collect service accounted for 56 per cent of all online sales at John Lewis, overtaking home delivery. The service allows customers to buy a product online and pick it up from either a John Lewis branch – or from a Waitrose store.
Leigh Sparks, professor of retail at Stirling University, said: “Consumers want to be able to get the product when they can, they don’t want to sit at home waiting for it or have it delivered to a neighbour’s house or lying in their garden.
“If they’re going to be in town, with access to a store where they can pick something up – without the hassle of waiting in queues to buy something – then that it what they want to do.”
He added: “This year, stores needed to look at their growth online and if they got it wrong, they had a big problem. The figures released before Christmas showed that online was seeing around 12 per cent growth and that is steadily rising.”
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