Department store group John Lewis has reported its strongest week of the year to date, with sales down just 1.5 per cent.

For the week ending April 11, John Lewis said it had been fortunate “to enjoy a more clement spring for the season as a whole” and trade has done well as a consequence. It said outdoor furniture was up 28 per cent and picnicware up over 50 per cent.

Last week the weather dictated a poor start to the week, a strong mid-point, and then a weaker Saturday, it being a sunny day.

Fashion sales increasedoverall by 6.6 per cent. John Lewis Direct continued to perform well in fashion, with the standout performance coming from children’s shoes, up 32 per cent. Homewares overall was much tougher. 

Grocer Waitrose reported a sales uplift of 23.6 per cent for the week. The grocer said that with many Brits choosing to stay in Britain for the Easter weekend, shops in holiday towns reported a boom in trade.

Waitrose reported earlier this week that it has become the first UK grocer to abolish all delivery charges for online shopping. The grocer said this step “will bring much-welcomed transparency to online shopping pricing structures” and “follows our own research which showed that online customers don’t like delivery charges or short-term gimmicks”. It said customers will enjoy a 5 to 10 per cent reduction in internet grocery bills.

The changeable weather led to contradictory sales patterns in Waitrose stores. Many reported an uplift in sales of barbecue foods, while in other areas there was a return to cold weather foods such as roasting joints.

Overall, the John Lewis Partnership reported a 13.8 per cent uplift in sales for the week.