John Lewis sales were flat in the week to 5 March, while sister department chain Waitrose managed a 9.3% increase.

Excluding VAT, John Lewis was up 0.1% in the week to 5 March, while with VAT included it was up 2.2%. Only five stores reported a VAT-inclusive increase in sales, led by Knight & Lee in Southsea which was up 6.6%. Five stores had double digit sales declines. Online had a strong week, up by just under 30%.

Head of operational support Chris Hooper said that in the light of Mothers’ Day and Easter falling late this year, it was “a good performance”, and noted that weekday trade was strong while weekend sales were “muted”.

Waitrose was up 9.3%, with the commentary focussing on pancake day ingredients, sales of which were unsurprisingly strong.