Department store chain John Lewis’s sales momentum shows no sign of slipping in 2008, as the retailer posted sales up 5.4 per cent for the week to January 12.

John Lewis retail operations director Andy Street said that during the last week of its Clearance it had cleared reduced stock levels well.

Street added that John Lewis’s fashion offer performed strongly, with lingerie, women’s shoes and beauty excelling at the start of the year.

John Lewis Partnership stablemate supermarket chain Waitrose registered sales up 6.4 per cent for the week to January 12. Waitrose retail director Tony Solomons said: “An icy start and unsettled weather kept more people indoors this week. TV reports on poultry and egg husbandry prompted large increases in free-range products, as customers turned to our trusted brand.”

Separately, Waitrose managing director Mark Price said that he would be interested in some of up-for-sale supermarket Somerfield’s sites, but ruled out making a£2.5 billion bid for the entire chain. He told The Times newspaper: “There is no doubt about our ambition to grow Waitrose and if the right stores came up, we’d be interested in buying them.

“Our sales uplift was just short of 5 per cent and 23 per cent better than 2006, and made a useful contribution to our cumulative position. It was the last week of Clearance and it is good to see that our reduced stocks have cleared well,” he added.