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News - 16 July 2005

Internet sales boost London stores after bombing

Inevitably sales in London have dropped markedly in the week after the bombing but savvy retailers have made up some of the losses via the internet.

John Lewis sales plunged by 28% as shoppers deserted Oxford Street and stayed at home. Peter Jones department store in Sloane Square was down by nearly 7% but their outlet in Brent Cross was more badly affected with just over 13% decline in sales.

The problem was not confined to London and several other John Lewis locations also showed marked declines in turnover, some like Cambridge, were worse than London at 33%. Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield recorded declines of 20%, 16% and 15% respectively.

However, John Lewis sales on the internet increased by 77% on the same week last year as nervous consumers shopped from home.

In May UK consumers spent a record £1.5bn on-line, an increase of 35.6% on May 2004 and this is a fugure achieved against a backdrop of widespread discounting in bricks-and-mortar stores. Currently on-line growth is outstripping traditional retail by a factor of 40.

Customer demand for on-line retail has been held back over the past decade over concerns about security of payment using a credit card but there has been a sea-change in the attitude of the public to such concerns as confidence grows that systems can thwart the fraudsters.

The Business Forum and the BHEP will be holding a major event for independent retailers in September to explore the options for on-line selling.


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