Freemans kettle product image.

Digital department store Freemans celebrates ‘strong’ growth after dropping catalogues

Freemans, the digital department store, announced today (30 January 2024) a ‘strong’ Christmas with continued growth.

Sales figures for the eight weeks to 31 December 2023 rose 5 per cent when compared to the same period last year and were set against a ‘challenging’ backdrop for the retail sector for this Christmas.

Freemans bucked the wider trend with recent reports from the Office of National Statistics showing a slump in retail in December as sales fell 3.2 per cent when compared to the previous month. 

The online retailer who has been on an ‘aggressive digital transformation journey’ shared that homewares and electricals were up 14 per cent, partywear up 4 per cent and Christmas decorations rose by 29 per cent as it identified a new ‘tree in every room’ customer trend for the very first time.

In addition, over 60 per cent of the products featured within it Made You Look Christmas TV all sold out including perfumes, bedding, soft furnishings and a ‘sparkling’ red Smeg Kettle. Freemans also shared that Black Friday/Cyber Week was up 8 per cent on the year. A new customer marketing approach saw the launch of the pure play’s ‘Unlock’ initiative. 

For the first-time customer accounts from old legacy trading brands, within its group portfolio, were ‘opened up’ so these customers could also shop seamlessly on as well. This delivered a strong incremental performance with the Freemans website trading 17 per cent, in the period, as a result.

Earlier in the season Freemans announced that it would be dropping its catalogue for the first time in its 118-year history, while at the same time revealing a new online look and feel that would be used across all its owned channels and paid for marketing called Made You Look.

The announcement and subsequent above the line execution delivered an increase in visits to its website of 23 per cent. The end of season sale also finished two weeks earlier than last year allowing the digital department store to go into the new season with full price hooked around its exclusive OTTO sourced parent company’s value range called bonprix.

Ann Steer, CEO, Freemans, commented: “The last quarter was one of the toughest I can recall, with continued pressures on the customer’s purse. As such I am delighted with the strong growth that we have delivered over Black Friday and Christmas. 

“Our announcement to drop the catalogue, something that in the past has been central to both our business and firmly embedded within the nation’s shopping habits for over a century, was very clearly the right thing to do with customers old and new responding well to our digital first approach.”

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