John Lewis department store sales were up 1.4% last week, though sales dropped off on Saturday as would-be shoppers chose to enjoy the sunshine.

Sales jumped to £52.2m in the week to March 19, although the retailer said clear comparisons were difficult to make with Mother’s Day and Easter falling on different dates to last year.

The sun influenced shopping choices with strong sales in spring collections helping fashion sales to rise 0.8% year-on-year. Linen in menswear was up 32% year-on-year and swimwear up 54%. New ranges, such as the launch of Boss in two branches, also performed well.

Online was the strongest performer with sales soaring 28% year-on-year. Electricals and home technology rose 4.4% with white goods, small electrical and IT performing well. The retailer predicted today’s release of the iPad 2 would be “an instant success”.

Home also nudged ahead by 0.2% with Easter collections and gifts up 19% and 21% respectively, in the run up to both Easter and Mother’s Day.

John Lewis buying director – electrical, home and technology Robbie Feather said: “We are seeing strength in newness and seasonal products, with more challenging trade in bigger ticket items.”

The department store said it expected sales to increase steadily in the run-up to Mother’s Day, Easter and the royal wedding.

Sales at stablemate Waitrose rose by 7.8% to £98m in thew week, with the sun also influencing shoppers grocery choices. Salads and summer fruits were popular; strawberry sales were up 58% and curly lettuce grew by 65%.

Heston Blumenthal’s Tagliata with Rocket and Parmesan Salad recipe, advertised on TV last week, helped drive sales with key ingredients -sirloin and rump steak -soaring 280%.