John Lewis says 2018 one of toughest years for retail as it looks back on year's product trends
The John Lewis department store chain has said 2018 was one of the toughest years for retail in the latest edition of its annual John Lewis & Partners Retail Report.
The retailer said the high street struggled against difficult trading conditions and the uncertainty over Brexit.
The report also looks back at the trends driving shopping including highlighting products that fell out of favour and those that soared in popularity.
John Lewis said the alarm clock was one of the year’s casualties with sales down 16% as people opted to use their smartphones to wake them up. Sales of small TVs were also in decline as customers chose more supersized screens. Meanwhile, sales of DVD players were down 40% due to the rise in popularity of streaming services.
Other products with falling sales included the traditional door knocker as customers showed a preference for smart doorbells.
The retailer said the year’s big events had a real impact on the type of products we bought. The World Cup helped to drive a 249% increase in sales of 60” TVs and an 87% uplift in sales of corner sofas. In addition, the royal wedding boosted sales of fashion items with sales of the Mulberry Darley bag rising by 327% after Meghan Markle was spotted carrying it.
Meanwhile, the year’s extreme weather drove a 63% rise in sales of boots in February and March and a 316% uplift in sales of inflatables during the summer heatwave.
The Love Island TV series also had a big impact on sales by driving a 72% rise in sales of thongs and a 132% uplift in sales of suspenders. Colourful men’s swimming shorts also proved popular.
2018 was also the year in which shoppers increasingly invested in eco-friendly water bottles and vegan beauty products.
Looking at homewares and furniture sales, John Lewis said customers increasingly bought quirky, eye-catching pieces as they looked to put their own stamp on their interiors. In fashion, shoppers opted for bold and bright colours. Meanwhile, the beauty category went bespoke, with a focus on products tailored to individuals.
John Lewis said more customers than ever are choosing to shop using their smartphone over a desktop or tablet. For the first time, the majority of online shoppers visited the retailer’s website via their smartphone. This led to the number of orders placed on mobile phones rising by 35%.
Simon Coble, trading director at John Lewis & Partners, said: “It is fascinating to see what trends our customers have fallen in and out of love with this year and how big events like the World Cup and the Royal Wedding have such a significant impact on what we buy.
“How we shop is changing at incredible speed and shops need to combine the very best in service and experiences with unique and fantastic products. And the mobile phone is vital in both as a means to browse and research but also as a place to buy.
"Identity was a major theme across all shopping trends this year and it is no coincidence that the idea of identity is central to John Lewis’s long-term plans - our strategy is firmly about dialling up what makes us different so that we remain relevant. It is our job not only to celebrate what makes us stand out as a business but also to help our customers celebrate everything that makes them unique too.”
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