John Lewis abandons the pledge to “never knowingly undersell” | john lewis

John Lewis is dropping its ‘never knowingly undersold’ price pledge after nearly a century, saying it has lost relevance at a time when it faces fierce competition from online retailers such as ‘Amazon.

The employee-owned department store chain said it made the decision to retire the well-known slogan this summer because its price promise did not apply to online-only retailers and shoppers were increasingly buying. more online.

John Lewis said he would however invest £500m this year, £100m more than in 2021, in lowering prices to offer customers “everyday quality and value”. The investment comes at a time when consumers are facing a squeeze on their disposable income as bills rise and wage growth fails to keep pace with inflation. It will also expand its Anyday discount price range.

Under the never knowingly undersold slogan, introduced by John Lewis in 1925, the chain promises to refund customers the difference if they find the same item on sale elsewhere at a lower price within 28 days. The retailer first revealed the engagement was being considered in March 2020, a month after Sharon White took over as chairwoman. Analysts said John Lewis was likely to introduce a new marketing slogan when NKU’s pledge was scrapped this summer.

Department stores face stiff competition from Amazon and other online specialists and the program never knowingly undersold has cost millions of pounds as the retailer has been forced to cut prices every time a rival organized a sale.

The change in tactics comes amid mounting inflation pressure, driven by rising energy, commodity and transport prices, which has made buyers increasingly price-conscious.

Pippa Wicks, Executive Director of John Lewis, said: “Customers are tightening their belts and we are responding to make John Lewis more affordable for every customer, every day, whether in-store or online.

“Never knowingly undersold has been a valuable sign of trust for John Lewis for a century, but it doesn’t align with how customers buy today as more and more purchases are made online. Our new £500 million investment means all our customers can be sure they are getting the quality, style and service they expect from John Lewis at great prices.

John Lewis has said he plans to invest more in his discount Anyday range, which he introduced in April last year and which has since recorded £125million in sales. John Lewis said a quarter of the 2 million shoppers who had purchased the brand in the past nine months were new to its stores. This year, the brand will expand to swimwear, children’s clothing and an expanded line of outdoor furniture.

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Martin Lewis, the founder of MoneySavingExpert, said the change would largely affect the few people who buy electronics and are willing to check prices against John Lewis rivals and then benefit from the two-year warranties of the big store.

He said: “This is a historic change for the John Lewis brand, but it won’t have much practical impact for many. The promise of “never knowingly undersold” has always been a bit of a psychological chore for consumers, arguably giving the wrong impression that John Lewis is cheap.

“In effect, it allows the store to charge whatever it wants and know that for a few price-sensitive shoppers – less than 1% last year – who bother to check prices elsewhere after making a purchase, John Lewis will reduce its price, but only to that of its main street competitors.

Nick Bubb, an independent retail analyst, said the change was “long overdue because a policy designed in 1925 was unlikely to last long in the age of the internet and no one really understood what it meant anyway”.

He expects John Lewis to protect its profit margins despite the increased price and quality investments promised by the company.

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