John Lewis department stores recorded a sales fall of 1.6 per cent last week in what it described as “one of the better weeks of the year thus far”.

Sister chain Waitrose achieved a 12.1 per cent uplift, bringing the sales advance for parent John Lewis Partnership to 6.3 per cent in the week to July 11.

John Lewis operational development director Andrew Murphy said girlswear and nursery clothing performed especially well and that menswear “appears to be bucking a rather gloomy trend across the sector as a whole”.

There was a mixed performance in electricals and technology. White goods were ahead of the comparable period last year and camera equipment sold well.

Murphy said that some home ranges “enjoyed their best week for some time”. The outdoor living category did well and indoor furniture moved ahead “by a small but satisfying margin”.

John Lewis Direct sales showed a double-digit advance.

Waitrose retail director Tony Solomons said: “The colder and more changeable weather last week failed to take the shine off our food sales, which finished superbly at 11.4 per cent higher than last year.”

Sales of comfort food such as soup rose and cookery book sales climbed 20 per cent.

Sales of local and regional food were “particularly strong”, up 37 per cent. Solomons said: “Customers tell us they want our shops to reflect their community and the strength of sales in this category has been reflecting that demand for some time.”