John Lewis has said its online sales will smash through the £500m barrier this year, as it delivered another stellar weekly performance in its department stores.
The retailer posted internet revenues of £389.5m in the year to 30 January and its online sales are up by more than 40 per cent so far in 2010.
The confidence of John Lewis that it will surpass £500m in web sales this year is significant because rival Marks & Spencer is expected to beat the same online target in 2010-11. This means that John Lewis and M&S alone will deliver more than £1bn of online revenues this year, laying bare the huge structural migration of retail sales from the high street to online.
A powerful driver behind John Lewis's growth spurt has been its launch of fashion online in September 2009. Its website now offers more than 300 brands, including Diesel, Aquascutum, Mulberry, G-Star and Radley.
Jonathon Brown, the head of online at John Lewis, said: "Fashion will be a significant part of getting more than £500m this year. Fashion is definitely the hero." Yesterday, John Lewis said its total sales surged by 12 per cent to £88m for the week to 20 November, a strong start to the pre-Christmas trading period and continuing its barnstorming year.
Mr Brown also said the department store chain - which is part of the John Lewis Partnership, along with the grocer Waitrose - was performing well across all product categories online, citing strong sales of Orla Kiely bed linen, iPods and Lego. The John Lewis website offers more than 150,000 products and now attracts more than 3 million unique visitors a week.
The retailer is also conducting a "click and collect" trial with Waitrose, where shoppers can order products on its website and pick them up at 26 Waitrose supermarkets, in addition to the 28 John Lewis department stores. Mr Brown said: "When you pick up your Roberts radio in Waitrose you can buy your weekly food shop so its good for the John Lewis Partnership overall."
John Lewis expects the busiest online shopping day of the year to be Monday 6 December. "In our forecast, this is the key date," said Mr Brown.
But he denied that the huge migration of retail sales online represented a threat to the high street, adding that John Lewis customers who shopped both online and in-store spent more with the retailer. "Retailers are adopting a very multi-channel strategy. I think it's a healthy thing."
John Lewis will launch an overseas delivery service next year that will initially cover parts of Europe.
Meanwhile, the soundtrack to John Lewis's Christmas TV advert - Ellie Goulding's version of Elton John's Your Song - has reached number one on the iTunes chart
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