John Lewis sales fell 3.2% to £64.6m last week as it came against tough comparisons as Easter fell in the same week last year.

The department store said a more accurate comparison is assessing the two weeks of Easter trading with last year – putting performance up 10.5%. 

But John Lewis buying director Paul Nikolds added: “There is of course one more important week to go before we can fully judge our Easter performance. 

“With an extra day’s trade this week and school holidays still ongoing there is plenty of opportunity for the recent momentum to continue.”

In the two-week period sales across the retailer’s home category increased 7.2% on the equivalent Easter weeks last year. It posted record-breaking performances in wall décor, up 26%, lighting, up 20%, and gift food and seasonal, which soared 28%. 

Despite tough comparatives because of the digital switchover last year, electricals sales surged 19.4% against Easter last year, driven by tablet sales soaring 62%.

The cold weather impacted spring fashion sales, but John Lewis still recorded a 5.6% gain. And sales at its online business rocketed 18.7% last week.

At John Lewis’ sister supermarket business Waitrose, sales excluding petrol, last week surged 10.2% to £102m compared with the equivalent post-Easter week last year, driven by comfort foods and the excitement of the Grand National.

Waitrose said a more meaningful measurement was the whole Easter fortnight, when sales compared with the equivalent period last year jumped 12.7%.

Last week Grand National fans helped boost sales of champagne, which increased 13.5%, while sparkling wine sales surged almost 32%. Wine sales were up 20% overall. 

The cold weather continues to impact sales with shoppers buying warming meals. Waitrose said fresh soup sales soared 53%, and sales of roasting meats surged. 

Cod-in-a-bag produced Waitrose’s biggest ever sales on the fish counter and oven chips were up by 39%.

The grocer added that sales at its new Little Waitrose shop in Vauxhall, which opened last week, were “well ahead of expectations”.

Next week the grocer will open its third Dubai store at Al Thanya on the back of a good performance at its existing two stores, where sales for the week were up 15% on last year.