John Lewis & Partners, the well-known department store chain, has reported a decrease in fashion sales during the seven-week period leading up to January 18th. The retailer’s weekly numbers reveal that fashion sales dropped by 2.8% during this time, as customers took advantage of the final week of clearance sales. These results contribute to an overall decline in sales of 2.8% compared to the same period last year for John Lewis.

The decline in fashion sales is a significant issue for the retailer, with the exception of menswear, which experienced growth. Menswear sales saw a notable increase of 7.3%, thanks to the retailer matching promotions offered by competitors. On the other hand, home sales suffered a significant decline of 9.3%, demonstrating the challenges faced by the department store chain.

Despite the setback in fashion and home sales, there is some positive news for John Lewis, as their electrical and home technology sales saw a slight growth of 1.4%. This growth can be attributed to the positive sales of computers, driven by new product launches and the discontinuation of support for Windows 7. Many customers saw this as an opportunity to upgrade their devices, leading to increased sales in this category.

To create space for the upcoming Spring Summer 2020 collections, John Lewis has been focusing on price reductions and clearing out existing stock. While this strategy may help with inventory management, it is likely to have a negative impact on the retailer’s overall profits. In fact, John Lewis has already issued a warning that its full-year profits will be significantly lower compared to the previous year, following a disappointing festive trading period.

In addition to the challenging sales figures, John Lewis is also undergoing a leadership change. Paula Nickolds, the top executive of the retail business, will be stepping down from her role in February as part of an executive overhaul within the company.

Overall, the recent sales figures highlight the ongoing difficulties faced by John Lewis & Partners. The decline in fashion sales, despite the growth in menswear, emphasizes the importance of adapting to changing consumer preferences and the highly competitive retail market. With the departure of Paula Nickolds and the need for a sales recovery, John Lewis will have to make strategic decisions and take proactive measures to navigate these challenging times.

To learn more about the challenges faced by department stores, you can visit this Reuters article. For information on the future of department stores in the digital age, you can read this Harvard Business Review piece.