John Lewis reported that good weather last weekend was bad for business and weekly sales at the eponymous department stores fell 5.3% year on year.

However the opening of the food hall at the Bluewater shop prompted an “overwhelmingly positive” customer reaction.

Supermarket chain Waitrose generated a rise in food sales of 10.4%. Barbecue meat was up 54% on last year and equipment up 77% as customers bought 52% more frozen meat and 20% more paper plates and napkins.

As across-the-counter trade slumped across the board, online business John Lewis Direct scored another strong performance as increased traffic and skillful online selling created strong demand.

Upholstery and cabinet furniture showed the strongest uptick, with home and gifts also doing well.

John Lewis managing director Andy Street: “We must stay in touch with last year’s scores in the early weeks, and then seize the opportunities October and November provide to record real progress. For certain, with new products arriving rapidly, the shopkeeper’s current task is an exciting one.”