Hopes are rising that a long-awaited Christmas spending spree has at last got under way after sales rose strongly at John Lewis department stores.

John Lewis reported that revenues, including VAT, rocketed 20.7% in the four days to December 21. However, the number compares against a snowy period last year when trading wasdisrupted.

John Lewis selling operations director David Barford said: “Trade this week has started strongly both in our bricks and clicks divisions.

 “In-store sales have benefitted from the festive atmosphere created by partners, while online sales soared in the run up to the cut off deadline for delivery.”

 The retailer highlighted the appeal of its click-and-collect operations, enabling shoppers to order online until 7pm this evening for pick-up on Christmas Eve.

“It is at this time that we expect our popular Click and Collect function to come in to its own,” said Barford.

“This is good news for last-minute purchases, in particular for many of our male shoppers who have driven sales of lingerie, fragrance, Champagne and speciality chocolates this week.

 John Lewis will launch a clearance Sale online at 5pm on Christmas Eve and in stores from December 27.

 Another indication that trading is improving came from the weekly BDO High Street Sales Tracker, which showed that like-for-likes rose 3.5% in the week to December 18.