Suffering John Lewis stands at a crossroads on the high street

Suffering John Lewis stands at a crossroads on the high street

Sarah Butler and Zoe Wood 19/09/2020

The retailer is eyeing a more online future. But as the last big department store standing, could it expand in the real world?

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.

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