John Lewis experienced its best week of the year in the seven days to May 9, with the beleaugered home sector leading the way. Overall, sales were down marginally by 0.4 per cent to £46.8m.

Seven John Lewis shops were up on the same week last year, although 12 registered double-digit declines.

Other than outdoor furniture, which struggled due to bad weather, home assortments did well with cookshop, silverware and stationery showing double-digit growth. Indoor furniture also had its best week of the year. Fashion and electricals had good weeks too, and merchandise director Jill Little said weaker comparatives over the next few weeks should help the chain pull back some of its sales defecit against last year.

Waitrose had a solid week, with sales up 3.5 per cent to £81.1m. Cold weather foods such as pies and beef stew packs soared on the back of mixed weather, and kitchenware showed massive growth of 31 per cent on the same week last year, reflecting increased enthusiasm for home cooking.