Strong demand for MP3 player
John Lewis has been buoyed by a strong week of trading ahead of Christmas, driven mainly by electronics.

Total group like-for-like sales were up 3.3 per cent against last year because of a robust performance from the electronics and home technology division. The category traded more than 20 per cent ahead of last year and made up for sluggish trade in heavier fashion items.

Flatpanel TVs, MP3 players and portable computers were popular items, but it seems the fashionable iPod is causing a stir at the retailer. 'We've seen an enormous uplift in sales of MP3 players and we're planning for a bumper Christmas - potentially driven by iPods.' said John Lewis electronics buyer Mike Khalfey.

John Lewis assistant buyer, electronics, Julie Mitrovic added: 'We can expect demand for the video iPod to be really big.'

The cooler weather this week gave the clothing category some respite and sales of shoes and formalwear supported menswear sales. Childrenswear, toys and crafts were still performing badly, with sales down 6.1 per cent.

Sales at the Oxford Street store were down 9 per cent, while Brent Cross was 3.5 per cent up. Online sales, up on last year by 32 per cent, continued to outstrip all other categories.

Evolution retail analyst Nick Bubb said that the results were surprisingly good again this week.