A TOUCHING snowman advert dreamed up by an Edinburgh business graduate proved a winter warmer for John Lewis as it announced record festive sales figures.
The Edinburgh branch of the department store reported sales up 18.5 per cent on the same period last year, bucking what the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) has labelled an “unspectacular” Christmas for other retailers.
Festive sales across the board were described by one financial firm as a “flat end to a flat year” with this month also being tipped to prove difficult.
However, John Lewis bosses are in no doubt their success is down to the heart-warming advert by former Napier student Craig Inglis, who is now marketing director for the chain.
The dad-of-three came up with the idea for the commercial after striving to buy his wife a present.
It sees a snowman complete an epic journey to buy his wife a hat and pair of gloves to the musical background of a haunting version of the Frankie Goes to Hollywood classic, the Power of Love.
He said: “Our advertising has become a great talking point over the past few years, and the Snowman’s Journey was no exception, notching up over three million hits on YouTube and seeing an incredible response from customers.”
It follows last year’s advert, which showed a boy as he waited to give his parents their Christmas presents, being voted the best ever Christmas ad.
The retail giant announced online sales were up 44 per cent in addition to the average 15 per cent rise of its stores across the UK.
Supermarket chain Waitrose also reported sales increases of more than four per cent, but elsewhere in the Capital the picture was much bleaker.
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “January will be a tough month for retailers as consumers face up to their credit card bills.”
David Martin, head of policy for the SRC, said business had been slow in the run-up to Christmas, with depleted footfall across the city.
He said: “It would be fair to say it was not a spectacular Christmas for retailers but neither was it a complete disaster.”
With Chancellor George Osborne predicting little growth this year, the SRC is renewing calls to freeze business rates in Scotland which have risen for the past three years.
Mr Martin added: “Households are going to carry on feeling the squeeze and they are going to be less confident to spend money which all impacts on the retail sector. It’s no secret that the high street and town centres are struggling, and a large part of that is down to the cost of doing business.
“Freezing the rates would be one way of effectively reducing these costs. If not, there will be some retailers whose numbers just won’t add up.”