John Lewis has recorded its strongest week of the year so far, with sales up 2 per cent.

For the week ending May 23, John Lewis said the 2008 figure was a “relatively soft target” and it faces “a sterner challenge in future weeks” but that it was still a “very satisfying result”.

Seven shops posted weekly gains, with John Lewis Trafford Centre leading the way, and Cambridge and Sheffield also faring well.

The stores to record a fall in sales included London’s Oxford Street, which was down 3 per cent, Bluewater, down 5.7 per cent, and Milton Keynes, where sales slumped 10.2 per cent.

Fashion was strong with sales up 5.4 per cent but electricals and home technology led the pack with sales up 7.1 per cent. Home suffered a sales fall of 4.5 per cent.

Grocer Waitrose reported an excellent week of sales, up 6 per cent. Waitrose commercial director Richard Hodgson said: “Customers were determined to enjoy a British bank holiday at home and sales of barbecues and associated products soared by 35 per cent.” Sales of barbecue meats also performed well, up 25 per cent.

In areas of the country where the weather wasn’t as warm, sales of hot comfort foods such as soup rose by over 30 per cent, while hot pies climbed by just over 20 per cent. Sales of outdoor plants grew by more than 50 per cent.

The grocer said sales of its Essential range, which launched in January, now accounts for about 10 per cent of its overall sales.

Overall, the John Lewis Partnership reported sales up 4.5 per cent for the week.