Twinkling lights are just visible behind screens where staff are putting the finishing touches to this year’s Christmas displays, but in other parts of the shop, the lights are still off. John Lewis’s flagship store in Oxford Street, central London, is bearing the scars of the pandemic.
A restaurant and cafe are closed and there are more staff than customers on the furnishings floor. The fashion floor is also a depressing sight, with tags flagging big discounts on racks of unwanted dresses and officewear. Last week it emerged John Lewis had applied for planning permission to convert entire floors of this shop into office space. It’s not hard to see why.
John Lewis, with its employee ownership and reputation for stellar customer service, still holds a special place in shoppers’ hearts. But while sister chain Waitrose, along with other supermarkets, has thrived in the pandemic, results published last week