John Lewis has confirmed that staff will not receive a bonus for the first time since 1953 after it was hit by lockdown store closures.
The retailer – which also owns Waitrose – said it posted a £55m loss for the six months to 25 July after higher costs offset a 1% rise in sales.
Its chairwoman told staff on Thursday the announcement “will come as a blow”.
Even before Covid-19 hit, the chain had warned it might not pay the usual staff bonus as competition ate into profits.
The last time that the chain, which operates as a partnership, decided not to pay a bonus to its staff was in the aftermath of World War Two.
Chairwoman Dame Sharon White said: “We came through then to be even stronger and we will do so again.”
She added that the pandemic had brought forward changes in consumer shopping habits “which might have taken five years into five months”.
“Both brands entered the crisis with strong and established online businesses and in the case of Waitrose, plans for expansion well under way in preparation for the end of the relationship with Ocado.
“Our digital businesses have been key to underpinning our first-half performance.”