Sales at department store chain John Lewis rose last week as its new financial year kicked off.

John Lewis reported turnover up 1.2% to £49.5m in the week to February 5. Selling operations director Nat Wakely said the rise was “admittedly not large” but still “pleasing” in a traditionally quiet period.

Fashion sales were flat year-on-year, while the home category was up 1.2% and electrical and home technology ahead by 2.3%.

Among the established stores Peter Jones, Liverpool and Trafford all recorded sales increases. The rest of the shops all recorded sales declines. was up 16.7%.

Wakely expected a boost to gift sales in recent days as Valentine’s Day approaches.

Sales at sister chain Waitrose climbed 9.8% over the week to £96.2m, which marketing director Rupert Thomas described as “fantastic”.

Chinese food was popular because of the Chinese New Year and an associated Delia Smith recipe stimulated sales of pork – pre-packed belly pork was up 1,300%.

Sales of “romantic gifts” surged 43% as Valentine’s Day neared and consumers are already looking ahead to Easter.

Thomas said: “Even though Easter falls late this year it seems that customers are already stocking up on Easter eggs and confectionery, sales of which were 40% higher than last year.”

* Yesterday Waitrose opened its first store in Bahrain. It already has two in Dubai.