Department store John Lewis’ sales were hit by warm weather over the Bank Holiday weekend as total sales dipped 0.2 per cent on last year, it has been announced today.
In contrast to last year’s cooler temperatures, the warm conditions impacted footfall across its stores for much of the week to May 11th 2013, though the retailer highlighted an improvement towards the end of the week thanks to a cool down and price matching activity.
Almost all stores reported negative sales over the week, though cooler weather in the North drove shoppers in stores as Edinburgh, Newcastle and Aberdeen saw sales rise 2.2 per cent, two per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively.
John Lewis was encouraging by strong Fashion sales, up 4.8 per cent on the same period last year, driven by own-brand women’s fashion and Haberdashery, which is enjoying a revitalisation thanks to the popularity of the Great British Sewing Bee.
Electrical and Home Technology reported growth of 4.7 per cent during the week despite tough comparatives due to last year’s digital switchover, as large and small electricals proved popular.
Online sales jumped 8.2 per cent on last year as its free next-day Click & Collect service more than doubled volumes on the same week last year.
Home sales declined 9.4 per cent on last year despite a rise in sales of outdoor furniture and barbecues, though Director of Retail Operations Development at John Lewis Simon Russell said that overall, results should be applauded.
“This week has got off to a much stronger start and we are well placed for the week ahead,” he said.
The retailer also announced today that it is to recruit over 100 apprentices for its 2013/14 Retail Apprenticeship programme while also launching a Technology Apprenticeship for tech-savvy candidates.
All successful candidates who complete their training are guaranteed employment with the retailer, which is to increase its intake by 25 per cent compared with 2012 when the scheme was launched.
Applications are now open and retail scheme apprentices are being recruited for 25 of John Lewis’ 39 UK stores, joining the business in September and moving across a variety of departments and branches.
Featuring two levels, the Retail programme offers an intermediate level for those who left school at 16 while the advanced scheme accepts young people who have completed A-Levels.
Meanwhile, Technology apprentices will be based at John Lewis’ head office in order to work with IT teams and the 18-month scheme will begin with a fortnight on the shop floor of one of the retailer’s London stores.
Laura Whyte, Personnel Director at John Lewis, said: “Last year’s apprentices have hit the ground running, and the programme has been a huge success for the business.
“Our aim for the programme has always been to give young people a genuine alternative to university and importantly, provide them with the skills and knowledge to set them on the path for a long-term career in retail.”