Poor Christmas retail figures blamed on desire to consume less

Christmas high streets and supermarket sales figures are coming thick and fast and the picture looks bleak for many retailers, while the British Retail Consortium is saying last year was the worst for retail in 25 years. Dr Gordon Fletcher, retail expert at the University of Salford Business School, has looked at what might be going on, and says it’s about more than just competition from online, we may just be consuming less. Dr Fletcher said: “With the annual round of Christmas trading results come in from the high street retailers there is a familiar tone. There has been another drop in sales as predictions have not even met last year’s poor results, let alone the buoyant figures that could be expected in the days before ecommerce.


n According to AMA Research’s 2017 Garden Market Analysis Report, the UK Garden Products market is currently valued at £5.7billion and is expected to benefit from a two per cent annual increase until 2023. n The Garden Centre Association will welcome double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes MBE (Mil) to its stage during its annual conference in January 2020. n Omnichannel retailer Screwfix turned 40 in December 2019. n Pantone has announced ‘Classic Blue’ or ‘Pantone 19-4052’ as its colour of the year for 2020. It’s described as bringing a “reassuring presence instilling calm, confidence and connection”. n Dunelm Group has reported a strong trading update for the 13-week and 26-week periods ended on 28 December 2019.Total-like-for-like (LFL) sales increased by five per cent in the second quarter, reflecting strong growth across the total retail system. Total growth, including the benefit of new stores, was 6.2 per cent. Total like- for-like sales for the first half of the year increased by 5.6 per cent with total growth of 6.0 per cent.


“This year’s numbers also hint to a new factor in the evolving high street story. Are consumers changing and to an extent consuming less? The results from Morrisons show declines in its sales of food and drinks and positions them as the worst performing of the supermarkets. “The resignation of John

Lewis’s managing director also points to a tough progress with the group’s reorganisation, which

includes Waitrose. The business model of the supermarket or the department store hosting rows of mass consumption brands is proving ever less popular for better informed resource-aware, climate-conscious consumers. “In

previous years,

explanations for poor Christmas trading figures have been levelled at the competitive clothing sector or in areas such as toys and household items. And this

remains the reason given for Sainsbury’s lower results closely linked to its ownership of Argos. The decision to avoid heavy discounting among the big retailers has prevented results from being even worse. “Tesco’s results even show

slight growth, primarily because of the performance of Booker Cash and Carry stores. This brings further evidence to the change in consumer behaviour where wholesale equates to bulk purchases and even a return to a preference for the model of the traditional

drysalter, where

goods are sold by weight and taken home in the consumer’s own containers. “Poor results at the supermarkets do suggest that we are actively and collectively consuming less during the festive season. It’s more conjecture as to whether Britain is just trying to pocket the savings, was simply enthralled into inaction by the unfolding political drama or applying themselves to more active and healthy lifestyles in the

surprisingly warm months.” B&Q is lowest price kitchen retailer for 2019

Comparison website Kitchen Compare has announced that B&Q has been named ‘Lowest Priced National DIY Retailer of Kitchens 2019’ for a third year running, beating rivals including, Wickes.

Homebase and The accolade has been

awarded to B&Q for consistently having the lowest priced kitchens throughout 2019. The results follow Kitchen Compare’s meticulous daily activity monitoring and recording the prices, finance deals and promotional activity of directly comparable kitchens sold by the

UK’s DIY retailers every single day in 2019.

Kitchen Compare’s analysis takes a unique directly

comparable eight-unit ‘Galley’ model, consisting of 50 individual components, across 34 different styles, sold across a variety of retailers and records the prices daily throughout the year. At the end of 2019, price data is analysed to establish which retailer’s prices were the lowest across the comparable styles. The data showed B&Q had more than double as many

comparable, lowest

priced kitchens as its closest competitors – scooping the award across 12 kitchens, compared to Homebase’s two, and Wickes’ three.

New judge announced for DIY Week Awards 2020

representative with Newell Rubbermaid over 20 years ago and has since enjoyed a number of successful roles within the housewares and DIY sector. Lengthy spells with Vacu-

Mike Smith of EFG Housewares has been announced as the latest judge to join the supplier category judging panel for this year’s DIY Week Awards. Smith started his field sales career as an area sales

Vin, Everyware Global, World Kitchen Chicago were then followed by a one year stint at Home Hardware Southwest and he now holds the UK sales manager position at the UK’s largest independent wholesaler, EFG Housewares in London. He is now responsible for

EFG’s entire delivery business along with updating EFG’s

online presence and ecommerce capabilities.

Smith brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the product judging panel for this year’s awards and joins our other expert judges, Paul Andrews (Home Hardware Southwest), Paul Garland (QVC UK), Vicky Nuttall (GIMA), Keeley Vernon (BHETA) and Paul Warren (Broad Street DIY).

n For more more information about this year’s DIY Week Awards, visit


Gross Christmas sales at the John Lewis Partnership were down 1.8% versus 2018 to £2,167 million. Waitrose & Partners gross sales (excluding fuel) were £1,033m, down 1.3% versus last year (due to shop closures) but up 0.4% on a like-for-like basis. John Lewis & Partners gross

sales were £1,134m,

down 2.3% versus last year and down 2.0% on a like-for- like basis. However, online sales were encouraging – Waitrose & Partners online sales increased by 16.7% and in the seven days to Christmas online grocery orders were up 23.4%. John Lewis & Partners online sales increased by 1.4%.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “We saw a good sales performance in Waitrose & Partners, despite a weak grocery market, with like-for- like sales up 0.4%. In John Lewis & Partners


sales were 2.0% down on last year. Operationally – across availability, service, delivery and online – we saw a strong performance in both brands. “In John Lewis & Partners, beauty sales were up 4.7%, comfortably ahead of the market,

with down overall fashion

sales up 0.1%. Home sales were down 3.4% and electricals and home technology were

4.0%. We

sales saw

significant variation in levels of demand with Black Friday sales up 10% on the equivalent period last year, followed by more subdued demand in the subsequent weeks. “In Waitrose & Partners we saw encouraging progress against

our milestones to

accelerate growth online next year, with a 23.4% increase in orders and an increase in basket sizes in the seven days to Christmas.

“At the full year, we expect

profits in Waitrose & Partners to be broadly in line with last year.”

John Lewis Partnership

Christmas trading down 1.8%

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