John Lewis’ sales rose last week, buoying retailers that had been braced for a dismal festive trading period

John Lewis has bounced back after weeks of declining sales, flying in the face of gloomy trading updates. The announcement comes as good news to anxious retailers following profit warnings from Asos, Bonmarché and Superdry in the crucial pre-Christmas period.

In the week to 15 December, John Lewis’ total sales were up 1.8% compared to the same period last year. Fashion performed particularly well, increasing by 9.3%, in a time when clothing retailers are suffering.

Homeware was down 1.7% compared to the same period last year. This was a marked improvement on the previous week, however, where sales were down 7.3%. Sales of electricals and home technology remained relatively low at - 4.3%.

During previous weeks, customers had been spending consistently less at the department store than in the same period last year as they waited for Black Friday prices to kick in. The discounting event caused an uplift in sales for one week, after which they plunged once more. 

Waitrose’s sales were less volatile. In the week to 15 December, customer spending with the grocer fell 1.9%, which was indicative of the month as a whole.