Waitrose online sales slump 27% as John Lewis Partnership makes hefty loss

Waitrose online volumes dropped 27% last year, with the decline in ecommerce hitting the grocer’s top line.

The supermarket’s sales dropped 3% in its year to January 28, with online accounting for all of the shortfall.

The grocer’s owner John Lewis Partnership said that Covid shopping behaviours were “unwinding” and that after more than trebling its online business between 2019 to 2022, ecommerce had begun to “normalise”.

Online sales were “significantly down” on the Covid peak but decidedly up on pre-pandemic levels.

Ecommerce was 17% of Waitrose’s business in 2021 but settled at 14% last year.

At Waitrose’s sister company John Lewis online traffic dipped 5% as footfall to its stores surged 34%. Online accounted for 59% of the department store’s sales, down from pandemic highs of approximately 70%.

The John Lewis app was the standout performer, with traffic up 13%. The app accounted to more than a quarter of the department stores’s online sales.

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The John Lewis Partnership made a £234m loss for the year as the retail group revealed it would not pay staff an annual bonus this year.

Excluding exceptionals, the biggest one being a write down in the value of Waitrose stores, losses were £78m. It had made a £181m profit last year.

John Lewis Partnership chair Sharon White unveiled plans to triple its cost saving target to £900m by January 2026.

“The mantra for the year is cost out, margins up and customer focus. As we need to become more efficient and productive, that will have an impact on our number of partners,” she said.

In terms of investment, White said the group will be pumping an additional £100m into Waitrose and focusing on data and loyalty to “give customers what they want”.

Charged revealed last month that John Lewis Partnership is working on what it calls a ‘game changing’ new omnichannel project that aims to integrate its high street business, online and app touchpoints.

It is looking to hire a head of loyalty as it brings together its My John Lewis and My Waitrose loyalty programmes, ahead of launching a pan-Partnership loyalty programme in 2024.



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