Fortnum & Mason Christmas Hamper

Fortnum & Mason’s Christmas online sales were up 65% from last year

Fortnum & Mason has recorded a surge in its Christmas sales after online drove growth in December.

The upmarket retailer saw a 21% rise in sales in the five-week period to 26 December, driven by major online growth of 65% year on year as the Omicron-driven working-from-home government guidance pushed shoppers online.

Fortnum & Mason also recruited over 700 additional staff over the festive period to support the surge in online demand.

Despite the strong Christmas numbers, the group still recorded a 6% drop in full-year turnover to £132m, after lockdown restrictions massively impacted its high street stores.

In the year to July 2021, it registered pre-tax losses of £2.7m (versus £0.6m in the year before) as its stores were temporarily closed during the pandemic lockdowns and footfall generally decreased.

But its online business grew threefold over that same period and accounted for 55% of all sales, comparatively to 33% in 2020 and 20% in 2019, as Fortnum’s brought in over half a million new customers during the year.

“After the inevitable challenges of a year dominated by Covid, we are emerging stronger and more resilient than we were before,” said Fortnum & Mason CEO Tom Athron.

“I have been so impressed with the agility of the Fortnum’s team as we reacted to a fast-changing world, and in particular the performance of our digital channels.”

He added that Christmas was “exceptionally strong” but that the broader outlook for the future remained “uncertain”.

“I am confident that 2022 will be an exciting year for Fortnum’s, building on this momentum with continued investment in our Piccadilly flagship as well as our technology capabilities and increased capacity to support the growth in demand, both here, and overseas,” he said.

Fortnum & Mason has paused all deliveries to the EU after new Brexit legislation posed “significant challenges” to its exports. The company has not yet revealed whether it will resume EU sales at any point this year.