John Lewis department stores registered a 7 per cent sales rise for the week, despite the unhelpful cold weather.

John Lewis merchandise director Jill Little said: “Sixteen shops improved on last year’s figures, driving the second-best week of the half with a like-for-like increase of 2.5 per cent. Notable double-digit increases were achieved at Oxford Street, Bluewater and Trafford.”

A star performer at John Lewis was consumer electronics, with sales of small electrical items up 22 per cent on last year. Little said: “Sales of kitchen appliances had been boosted by the Delia effect.”

John Lewis Partnership stablemate supermarket Waitrose posted a 3.7 per cent increase in sales and a 0.8 per cent like-for-like rise.

Waitrose finance director Richard Mayfield said the week’s results were the first meaningful comparison following the Easter Holiday period, which arrived early this year.

He said: “The unseasonably cold weather, especially compared to last year’s above-average temperatures, affected sales in many of our branches. The London Marathon route also had a significant effect on sales in some of our London branches where there were road closures. However, preparation for the Passover brought extra trade to the relevant branches.”