John Lewis department stores delivered their strongest performance of the first half so far in the week to March 28, when sales fell 2 per cent.

Grocery chain Waitrose posted a 16.7 per cent sales rise for the week, generating an overall uplift of 9 per cent for parent company the John Lewis Partnership.

London’s Peter Jones and Oxford Street department stores achieved the best sales rises, of 17.1 per cent and 6.5 per cent respectively.

Dan Knowles, selling operations director of John Lewis’s Region B, said fashion had been one of the strongest categories for the chain.

He said: “Good availability, superb new product and our fashion advertising campaign, not to mention the weather, all played their part in delivering a good sales result and one we can be very happy with.

“The fall of Easter and Mother’s Day this year did also have a positive impact, and we were helped by a competitor’s promotional activity driving footfall onto the high street and into our branches.”

The good weather also helped Waitrose, which generated a 14 per cent year-on-year increase in food sales, beating targets. The England v Slovakia football match on the Saturday drove a 35 per cent increase in cider sales and shoppers snapping up Meal Deals.

Waitrose also confirmed that three stores acquired from Somerfield, in Haslemere, Upminster and Stamford, will all open in mid-May.