Putting around 1,300 jobs at risk, British department store chain John Lewis plans to close eight stores. The closures will include two major outlets in Birmingham and Watford as it would continue to invest heavily in e-commerce, with online sales looking set to represent around 60 to 70 per cent of total sales this year and next, compared with 40 per cent prior to the COVID-19 crisis. The closures will help the retailer secure the sustainability of partnership and continue to meet the needs of its customers however and wherever they want to shopp.
Considered as middle England’s favorite department store, John Lewis, follows menswear shop TM Lewin, department store Harrods, sandwich chains Upper Crust and Pret A Manger and fast-food outlet Burger King among other UK brands to have warned of job cuts in the last two weeks.
UK retailers have been hammered by the lockdown and data shows that shoppers remain wary of entering stores even as the restrictions ease, with footfall down 50 per cent year on year during the third week of reopening in England and Northern Ireland, according to the British Retail Consortium. The pandemic has heaped additional problems onto many retailers who were already struggling due to tight margins, competition from online-only stores and the cost of business rate taxes.