John Lewis cheers Black Friday as biggest sales day on record

John Lewis logged its biggest trading day on record as Black Friday sales helped make up for a few weeks of "challenging sales".

The retailer said that it booked a 7.2% rise on year-on-year sales in the week to November 25 to £214.3 million, having seen 705 items ordered per minute online at their peak.

"Marked by Black Friday and price matching through our Never Knowingly Undersold policy, it was the biggest ever week and Black Friday was the biggest ever day in John Lewis's trading history," John Lewis operations director Dino Rocos said.

It came "after a few weeks of challenging sales in the run up to Black Friday", Mr Rocos explained, echoing comments from fellow retailers who have recently flagged concerns over a softening UK consumer market as households battle inflation that has surged to 3%.

But the sales event saw John Lewis' beauty division log the company's biggest sales jump, up 27.5% for the week, while mobile and wearable technology helped drive a 9.7% jump in electricals.

Apple MacBooks and LG Smart TVs were some of its best sellers.

Black Friday 2017
Black Friday 2017

Womenswear and fashion sales rose 8.3% and 9.9%, respectively, but the picture was not as rosy for its home division which saw sales fall 2.1%.

The company rolled out its Black Friday event over two weeks and said it "traded well" in both shops and online.

Online sales hit a record high for the week, while bricks and mortar stores became "increasingly busy" throughout the weekend.

The business boost resulted in its Magna Park distribution centre processing 54% more units on Sunday, and packing around 13,000 items per hour on average across its operations over the entire weekend.

On Black Friday alone, it said the use of its app for Black Friday deals between 12am and 8am surged 36.8%, while its busiest hour - between 9am to 10am - resulted in 705 units being bought online per minute.

Mr Rocos said: "The successful sales performance of the week is down to the hard work and planning of Partners across shops, distribution centres and at head office - all of whom have played a key role in reaching this milestone performance."

However, there could be further challenges ahead, with a recent Visa report predicting the first fall in Christmas spending since 2012.

The research showed that Brexit uncertainty and a drop in real wages are set to weigh on UK households, resulting in a 0.1% fall in sales over the festive period in real terms compared to the same period last year when spending grew 2.8%.

It would be the first time that spending has dropped over the November-December shopping period since 2012, when it declined 1.3%.