The high street retailer posted a total sales decline of -4.1% to £2.68million across the business for the week ended May 25, with home and outdoor living struggling in its department stores, whilst Waitrose saw sales of outdoor plants soar 21%.
Waitrose & Partners finance director Ross Avery said of the double-digit sales surge in outdoor plants: “On the back of the Chelsea Flower Show, customers were keen to be in the garden.” The grocery chain – part of the John Lewis Partnership - sells outdoor plants at most of its branches and has its own dedicated garden website, waitrosegarden.com, which offers indoor and outdoor plants, garden tools and equipment, growing media, plants and outdoor living ranges.
Meanwhile, John Lewis – voted the nation’s favourite department store chain in a recent Which? survey – recorded a 5.6% decline in total sales for the week, as it annualised price matching heavy competitor activity in the same week last year.
Home sales were down 7.1%, whilst the cooler weather compared to the same trading period last year also particularly affected sales in outdoor living against 2018’s figures.
However, upholstery sales were up 18.7% as the business continues its marketing focus on the living room.
Electrical and home technology sales were down 5.1% but sales of large electricals were up 4.7% for the week.
Last week Waitrose & Partners announced it has acquired a 110,000sq ft property in Enfield, North London that will open as a dedicated fulfilment centre for online customer orders in spring next year.
The announcement is the third in a series of big moves by the retailer to treble Waitrose.com to a £1billion business within three years: earlier this month it signed an outline agreement with Today Development Partners to develop three further customer fulfilment centres with state-of-the-art technology; and in the same week created the role of digital director, moving retail director Ben Stimson into the new role to accelerate online growth and operations.
The Enfield centre is the next stage of online investment that has seen the retailer inject more than £80million into Waitrose.com over the last five years. This has been across the entire service, from digital platform and new apps, to delivery performance and doorstep service.