Gifts Today magazine

John Lewis releases annual Retail Report

Reporting a sales increase in teapots and a thirst for unique in-store experiences, the fifth John Lewis Retail Report captures a transformative half decade in Britain

In the fifth anniversary edition of the John Lewis Retail Report, we take a look back at the year breakfast was reinvented, Millennial Pink found its way into wardrobes and homes, voice activation went mainstream and superfoods moved from our plates into our beauty products.

As well as reviewing the last twelve months, this year's special five-year edition looks back over the extensive changes in the UK and in retail since 2013. For instance:

• Black Friday has replaced Cyber Sunday as the biggest spending day of the year
• There are now almost 50 times more smart home products stocked at John Lewis, compared to 2013
• The proportion of visits from mobiles and tablets to has increased from 42 per cent to 64 per cent in the last five years.

As with previous years, we have analysed extensive internal data to provide an insight into the products which fell out of favour, the trends that soared and the themes which dominated the year.

What we left behind:
• Spiralizers: Online searches dropped by 53% compared to last year
• Office suits for women: This traditional look is becoming a thing of the past with matching suit jackets and skirts seeing a 10% decline
• Push-up bras: Customers favour non-padded options today, with sales up 20%
• Sat Navs: With smartphones taking the driving seat, we plan to remove these from our stocklist.

2017 was the year of the unicorn and Millennial Pink
Faced with economic uncertainty and an eventful year in politics, customers sought out products to help them escape from reality:
• Online searches for pool inflatables increased 99% compared to last year
• Unicorns were emblazoned on everything, from wallets to water bottles (searches increased 70%)
• Searches for mermaid-themed products increased 22% on last year.

Meanwhile, the iconic blush shade Millennial Pink dominated colour palettes in homes and wardrobes as a result of its phenomenal popularity on the social media feeds of famous influencers including Rihanna and Beyoncé, with 63,000 searches for 'pink' on since January 2017.

Breakfast was reinvented
This is also the year that the UK lost its appetite for a traditional greasy fry-up, replacing it with a more wholesome alternative. Fat-free Eaziglide frying pans were best sellers, egg gadgets and avocado tools saw sales rises of 25% and 40%. Breakfast classics such as teapots, butter dishes, egg cups and coffee machines all experienced sales increases.

We redefined how customers interact with shops
Nowadays, experience is as important as the product. John Lewis offered more try-before-you-buy, exclusive experiences in the last twelve months than ever before, including sleepovers in shops, live cooking demonstrations with Jamie Oliver, high tea in a Wedgwood pop-up tearoom and yoga and boxing workouts on the rooftop of John Lewis Oxford Street. Millennials are driving this appetite for unique shopping experiences, with younger John Lewis customers twice as likely to do a leisure activity or have a beauty treatment while out shopping than more mature customers.

Mobile shopping is now second nature
Today, almost everyone uses a phone to browse and buy: over a third of online traffic to comes from mobiles. In 2017 there was a tipping point in behaviour, as purchases on smartphones increased a staggering 69 per cent, compared to last year.

One reason for the growing dominance of mobile shopping is that it allows for a bite-size shopping experience, with customers filling time by browsing for inspiration or buying an urgent item within a matter of minutes.

Peter Cross, director of customer experience at John Lewis, says: "How we shop continues to change at pace. Shops now need to combine the very best products with the latest, most immersive experiences. For many customers, their phones are the 'remote control' for their lives with their shopping, banking, social networks and to-do list in one place.

"Five years on, this report is as intriguing as ever - as much for highlighting what we bought as highlighting what we haven't. It's our job to make sure that customers in 2020 will be as engaged and excited by the products and experiences we offer as they are today. In the face of all this change we will make sure that John Lewis remains trusted by millions of customers across the country for expert advice and guaranteed quality, which is never knowingly undersold."

The John Lewis Retail Report is created every year and is based on its shopping data from August 2016 to September 2017.

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