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John Lewis reveals that Cult TV influences shopping trends

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Popularity of cult TV shows such as Fleabag, Peaky Blinders and Stranger Things heavily influenced what consumers bought in the past year, according to the John Lewis annual report, alongside sustainability, luxe loungewear and convenience shopping.

Simon Coble, trading director at John Lewis and Partners, said in a statement: “As a destination for customers during key life moments and big decisions, understanding how the nation shops, lives and looks remains at the top of our agenda. This year’s report, our seventh edition, explores how JOMO (the Joy of Missing Out) is revamping our living space, why 2019 was the year of oversized dresses, longer lengths and looser-fitting styles and, of course, what items we left behind.”

One of the biggest fashion trends was a 66 percent rise in sales of black jumpsuits, dubbed the ‘Fleabag effect’, following the return of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s hit television show Fleabag. The retailer’s most sought-after black jumpsuit was its Somerset Black Lace Jumpsuit.

Other TV shows creating trends was Peaky Blinders, which saw a 25 percent increase in sales of flat caps as the fifth season aired in August, while Stranger Things has seen an uptake of 8 percent in people buying slim fit Levi’s to get the vintage look seen in the show.

Customers opting to stay in and watch TV has also had an impact on luxe loungewear, with John Lewis reporting an increase of 129 percent, as shoppers want to feel “comfortable, but polished, whilst logging in from their sofa”.

John Lewis shares fashion trends from the last year in annual retail report

Modesty reigned in the past 12-months with mini dresses falling from favour, with John Lewis own brand eliminating them from the range. Instead, the emerald Hush Kensington shirt dress was among the top ten best-sellers of the year and Kin dresses, with their kimono silhouettes, saw a 20 percent sales increase.

The trend kicked off last Christmas, added the retailer, when midi dresses were up 152 percent and maxi dresses, up 179 percent were the go-to length for the party season.

Tailoring also saw a revival, with customers mixing and matching jackets to dress up or down for any occasion and there was a 33 percent increase in sales of high-rise, ankle-length trousers, while wide-leg culottes increased in popularity by 51 percent as loose-fitting and longer lengths dominated womenswear this year.

Other key fashion trends included a love of printed dresses, up 20.4 percent, helped by the brand’s five-piece collection with La Galeria Elefante. While shoppers were keen to unleash their wild side, with animal prints proving best sellers in 2019, with sales of leopard print going up by 333 percent, snakeskin by 241 percent and zebra by 230 percent. The Mint Velvet snake print shirt was the fifth most popular item across all womenswear purchases.

In terms of swimwear, one-piece swimsuits continued to be popular, up 15.6 percent and outselling bikinis, and there was also a rise of “maxi resortwear”, such as floor-skimming kaftans and sundresses.

In keeping with customers’ preference for functional comfort, underwear is now understated and less structured, added John Lewis in the report, with sales of T-shirt bras up 81 percent and non-wired bras by 65 percent. Seamfree crop tops were bestsellers, as were stick-on strapless bras, bringing freedom for those who want to feel comfortable and supported in backless or strapless outfits.

While the coverage of the Fifa Women’s World Cup, led to an increase in purchases of sports headbands, up 76 percent and sports bras, and the brand even saw visits from smartphones to its website during the ad break of the semi-finals increased by 4.5 percent, with searches for womenswear and accessories accounting for 39 percent of total views.

In terms of fashion left behind, John Lewis stated that customers are no longer willing to endure uncomfortable underwear in the name of sex appeal and this saw suspenders sales down 8 percent compared with last year.

John Lewis and Partners retail report 2019 reveals what “shaped the year”

The annual retail report analysed sales and consumer trends from August 2018 to August 2019 and found that there was a greater awareness on sustainability amongst its shoppers. With this in mind, when it came to relaunching John Lewis and Partners menswear, sustainability was a key priority and the team developed sustainable supply chains and transitioned into more sustainable materials, such as working with Repreve to ensure that the stuffing in outerwear products is made of 100 percent recycled polyester, as well as an ongoing collaboration with The Better Cotton Initiative.

Another trend observed by John Lewis over the past year has been a greater number of shoppers opting to shop online, rather than in-store, as visits to the retail company’s website on mobiles grew by 54 percent, up 12 percent compared to the previous year. While 57 percent of purchases made online were delivered using the ‘click and click’ option for a quick pick-up.

They also saw women’s personal styling appointments hit over 25,000, as well as a 39 percent increase in personal styling sales, with the average spend per appointment coming to 383 pounds.

Coble added: “We believe that having a physical shopping destination creates human connections and builds trust, particularly at John Lewis and Partners, where our Partners have dedicated training and knowledge to offer specialist advice and personalised support. A growing range of services are at the heart of what we offer, designed to meet the individual needs of customers and embrace the fun of shopping. Offering the ability to delight customers with immersive experiences and make their purchases more meaningful is where bricks triumph over clicks.”

The report concluded with predictions for how we will shop, live and look in 2020, apparently it will be all about audio sunglasses, transforming stores into experiences, crystal healing, home tech, wallpapering your ceiling and of course, environmental awareness shows no signs of slowing down.

Images: courtesy of John Lewis and Partners

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