The wonder of Waitrose brings a Christmas shopping boom to the High Street
As the last minute madcap Christmas shopping rush hit the High Street, Marlborough’s biggest store revealed that its takings yesterday and today (Friday) will equal those for a whole week – and that sales are now above all expectations.
Despite the austerity gloom, Waitrose is enjoying a boom increase of more than 13 percent reported throughout the John Lewis store partnership, which includes the employer-owned supermarket chain.
And it is not only the lack of snow this year that is playing a role. The dramatic change in shopping patterns resulting from the internet is now responsible for some 25 per cent of sales, the click and collect service just one example.
“People are ordering their turkeys online now – we have orders so far for 450 – and their canapés too,” revealed manager Andy Davies. “We have also done 350 single deliveries to customers so far this week and there are more on the way.”
“We’ve clearly now got competition in the town from Tesco. So for us to consistently increase our figures year on year is brilliant and a real boost to expectations.”
“We are having more customers shopping with us in the High Street than we did last year. We are already ahead of where we were at this time last year. There’s a real buzz in the store -- and in the town.”
And he added: “I now see a much more vibrant High Street this Christmas. It’s only a few years ago that we saw the demise of Woolworths and we were toasting all the staff and wishing them well.”
“Then Marks & Spencer went. We’ve now got Landmark on one site and it’s good to see them and the independents doing well this Christmas and that we can forget all about the economy and enjoy ourselves.”
Among the surprises he has encountered is a huge demand for Waitrose/John Lewis gift vouchers, the store turning over tens of thousands of pounds in this area alone.
“The demand has certainly outstripped what we expected,” he said. “We ran out of tokens on Monday and had to have more specially sent to us by courier.”
There have been more than 500 orders through click and collect, which allows customers to order on line and then pick up when they visit Waitrose, items ranging from new blankets to a 50inch wide screen TV.
“And the John Lewis clearance sale starts on Boxing Day, so we expect to see more click and collect items coming to Marlborough,” he pointed out. “If you order online by seven o’clock, then the item is here by two o’clock the following day.”
Significant discounts of up to 50 percent are playing a vital role too resulting in “hundreds and hundreds of cases” of half price champagne being ordered. Malt whiskies too are an unexpected best seller along with discounted fine wines for Christmas dinner.
The increased trade has provided temporary jobs for the 25 university students who are on the supermarket’s books. “We say goodbye to them in September when they go off to university but then always welcome them back for Christmas,” explained Mr Davies.
“And they always come back desperate to earn some money.”