John Lewis seeks clarity from government on Christmas reopening

Published on: 10th November 2020

The John Lewis Partnership fears it will have insufficient time to prepare for seasonal demand in the run up to Christmas.

As England enters its second week of Lockdown, John Lewis Partnership operations director, Andrew Murphy, has urged the government to give greater clarity on non-essential stores reopening in time for Christmas, following fears of the lockdown extending past 2nd December.

England went into a second national lockdown last week (5th November), which involves the closure of non-essential shops for one month.

Andrew said the government must “provide clarity as soon as possible” on whether stores will be able to reopen in early December, as John Lewis has concerns that it will have insufficient time to prepare for seasonal demand.

He said big stores would need time to “swing into gear”, though he is still feeling confident that John Lewis will be able to handle all its deliveries and is in a good position moving forward.

Following lockdown, thousands of John Lewis department store staff have been redeployed to the online business or to sister grocery business Waitrose. However, to cope with the festive shopping season, Andrew said he needed to know whether to prepare to bring temporary staff into shops or to direct up to 400,000 product lines to online warehouses and delivery channels.

He added that he was not pressuring the government to reopen stores but hoped for a clear statement over strategy, ideally within the next two weeks.

John Lewis could make up to 20% of its annual profit in the all-important three weeks to 24th December (Christmas Eve), Andrew concluded.


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