Department store John Lewis “great start” to its new financial year as sales soared 20.6% last week as the Six Nations rugby boosted sales at sister retailer Waitrose.

John Lewis head of selling operations, new formats, Maggie Porteous said: “What a great start to the new trading year! Both shops and online were firing on all cylinders to give a superb increase, which came on the back of strong availability.”

Online sales at the department rocketed 48.5% in the week to February 2 as it launched 30,000 new SKUs onto the website. The retailer said mobile traffic was particularly strong.

In-store sales benefitted from weak comparisons as last year snow was disrupting some parts of the UK.

In John Lewis’ electricals, home and technology division, the imaging, large electrical and vision categories prospered while Porteous said: “There is no stopping tablet trade at the moment.”

In fashion, new collections drove sales including the launch of the latest Somerset by Temperley range. John Lewis launched a campaign for the collection, which became the fastest-selling brand in the department store’s history when it launched last year.

Beauty sales were also buoyant, as customers took advantage of its price matching against a competitor.

Sales in the home were mixed, however gifting did well with gift food continuing its stellar run, according to Porteous.

She said: “The momentum from last year certainly seems to be continuing into the new trading year, and with fabulous new products, improved availability in shops and online, and superb service in our shops, there is every sense that this should continue this week.”

Meanwhile at sister retailer Waitrose sales, excluding petrol, for the week rose 5.2% boosted by the kick-off of the Six Nations rugby union Championship along with Chinese New Year.

The growth comes against tough comparatives last year when forecasted snowfalls encouraged shoppers to stock up.

Waitrose marketing director Rupert Thomas said: “The rugby triggered a scrum for beverages as world beer sales jumped by 60% and speciality beer by 48%. Sporting fans took the opportunity to put their feet up as ready meal sales increased by 14%, our Good to Go range by 10%, fresh pizzas by 7%.”

The Chinese New Year, which falls this Sunday, is also having a huge impact according to the grocer, as nearly 1,000 woks were sold over the week, soaring 600% against average.

In its Cook’s Ingredients range sales of Eastern flavours also shot up by more than 32% while toasted sesame oil jumped 15%, shiitake mushrooms by nearly 22% and hoisin sauce by almost 30%.