John Lewis & Partners has released its annual retail report which looks back on the past 12 months and what shaped the year that has been. The UK waged war on plastic waste, embraced the Joy of Missing Out (JOMO) over the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), practiced mindfulness with LEGO for adults, and opted for staying in with luxe loungewear and informal dinner parties. The nation also fell out of love with drones, which we stopped selling this year and landlines rang out of fashion, down 45% since 2014.
This was the year customers decluttered, investing in storage and doing away with crammed cupboards and overcrowded shelves as the Marie Kondo craze swept the nation. In fashion, modesty reigned as customers opted for longer hemlines and looser silhouettes as well as comfortable underwear. Minimalist beauty took centre stage as customers embraced their natural radiance rather than covering up with heavy makeup.
As with previous years, we have analysed extensive internal data to get an insight into the products which fell out of favour, the trends that soared and the themes which dominated the year.
What we left behind:
- Drones - Following the disruption in UK airports in December 2018, we decided to stop selling drones this year.
- Landlines - With customers preferring to rely solely upon their smartphone to stay in touch with family and friends, we saw sales of landlines down 20% this year, down 45% since 2014.
- Camcorders - Sales of camcorders were down 33% as smartphone cameras enable customers to capture crystal clear quality content.
- Clutch bags - We removed clutch bags from our own brand womenswear accessories range which we relaunched this summer.
- Suspenders - Comfort was king for customers when it came to undergarments; sales of suspenders were down 8% on the year.
- Mantel clocks - Traditionally seen as the centrepiece of a living room, sales of mantel clocks were down 30% as customers ask their voice activated speakers instead.
- Cocktail shakers - With artisan tonics dominating the drinks trolleys, less customers were reaching for their cocktail shakers.
- Fish Kettles - As formal dinner parties fell from favour, we decided to stop selling fish kettles.
2019: The events that defined the year
This year was one of generational change for retailers, as uncertainty and instability dominated the high street. Glastonbury joined the fight on plastic wastage and banned single use plastic for the return of the iconic festival. A colourful UK celebrated 50 years of pride and Brits opted to stay in and binge watch the Women’s World Cup and cult TV.
- War on Plastic: We saw sales of reusable water bottles up 15% in the week running up to the festival.
- 50 Years of Pride: The UK painted the town rainbow this year with lively celebrations taking place across the country to celebrate 50 years of Pride.
- Cult TV: The return of Fleabag and Peaky Blinders saw sales of black jumpsuits and flat caps boom respectively, as customers opted to stay in and enjoy a night in front of the telly.
- Women’s World Cup: Sales of sports headbands and goal posts jumped up as the nation cheered the lionesses on.
What dominated the past 12 months?
It’s all about convenience
Shopping on the go became even more essential for our customers, as the bus ride or coffee break provided ample time for browsing. Visits to our website from mobiles grew by 54%, up 12% compared to last year and 57% of online orders used our Click & Click option for fast and convenient pick up.
Beauty went minimal
Minimalist beauty stormed social media this year, with “less is more” proving popular with our customers who moved away from heavy foundations and dramatic contouring and opted for tinted moisturisers and lightweight setting powders. Our customers invested more than ever in their beauty regime to create that picture perfect finish.
Sustainability remained front of mind
As the government announced a forthcoming ban on sales of plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers in England, our customers chose to cut down on their own plastic use. Travel mugs, lunch boxes and portable cutlery became daily essentials with many customers owning multiple reusable water bottles dependent on their need i.e. one for the gym, one for work and one for “on the move”.
Investing in quality
With an eye for detail and a taste for luxury, our customers invested in quality fabrics when it came to updating their wardrobes. Animal print continued to wow fashionistas, with sales of leopard print up 333% and snakeskin and zebra print also proving popular.
What does the future look like?
With the trend for flexible working continuing to evolve, developments in technology and 5G will enable even more of us to be “always on” from wherever we are in the world. Environmental awareness shows no signs of slowing down as more of us are set to turn our hand to urban farming in 2020, and the rental market will continue to boom as consumers opt for fuss-free rental options over property investments. In the kitchen, pressure cookers are set to return to favour following a recent resurgence in the USA and ceilings are due a makeover as customers are utilising this space as a fifth wall for wallpapering.
Simon Coble, Trading Director at John Lewis & Partners, said: “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.
We believe that having a physical shopping destination creates human connections and builds trust, particularly at John Lewis & 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.”
Download a copy of the John Lewis & Partners Retail Report 2019
*The John Lewis & Partners Retail Report is created every year and is based on its shopping data from August 2018 to August 2019