John Lewis is promoting its Never Knowingly Undersold promise for the first time by displaying discounts on products in stores.

The retailer has put tickets on display where it has matched rival retailers’ promotions.

Under the 80-year-old pledge, John Lewis will refund the difference if a customer finds a product cheaper elsewhere, but it has historically avoided overtly indicating markdowns.

The initiative comes as retailers jostle for position to increase footfall in the run-up to Christmas and as the downturn in consumer spending takes hold.

Director of selling operations Dan Knowles said the strategy is in response to customer research, which revealed that a proportion of customers were unaware of the pledge. It also wants to broaden its appeal to future customers as it embarks on plans to open 24 stores in the next decade.

Knowles said: “We are being bolder about saying whether there is any promotion on any given day and that we will match it.”

He added that the move to display the price promise had helped deliver a good week for beauty sales last week, when Debenhams had a three-day Sale. “It is a great driver of footfall on the high street and we get full-price sales on other products,” he said.

John Lewis is regarded as a barometer of the health of high street trading, but its figures suggest it is outperforming many of its rivals. In the week to December 1, its sales were up 9.3 per cent against the previous week and 4.5 per cent year on year, driven by womenswear and audio and TV.

Knowles said that John Lewis is forecasting its fashion and furniture divisions will deliver a stellar Christmas. He added that sales of big-ticket furniture items, which are the first to suffer during an economic downturn traditionally, had been strong for the past six months, but white goods sales are suffering.