John Lewis Partnership posted a group sales rise of 2.7 per cent in the week to June 21. Revenues at the eponymous department stores fell 1.2 per cent, but grocery chain Waitrose reported a 5.2 per cent rise.

John Lewis managing director Andy Street said there had been “marvellous progress” in fashion, led by womenswear. He added that beauty “continued its great run”. Home, however, was tough and electricals “continued to reflect the challenging market”.

He said: “With four months of the year behind us, our sales progress has been trimmed back to 1.2 per cent, a clear reflection of the more challenging environment.

“This weekend we face the first half's clearance peak. We are well prepared, with our buyers having bought confidently and in depth, and markdowns well planned. Exceptional value will be on offer and, with the national mood for bargain hunting, I'm confident we will trade well.”

Waitrose retail director Tony Solomons said that trading had been affected by the mixed weather and that fuel supplies had been affected by the tanker drivers’ strike.