John Lewis has suffered a fall in sales after a taxing week when home sales dwindled.

Sales at the department store chain in the week to May 17 were down 1.8 per cent to£46.53 million.

John Lewis director of selling operations Dan Knowles said it had been a “tough week”.

“By the high standards we set ourselves, being below last year has to be considered a disappointing outcome,” he said.

He said that sunny weather on the Saturday (May 17) drove sales up 6 per cent and the retailer had a record week of sales of outdoor furniture and barbecues.

Fashion exceeded last year’s figures, with womenswear, shoes and swimwear driving sales. Home “found the going much more difficult”, said Knowles.

He added: “All indications are that we continue to do better than most and, as always, we must ensure we drive sales and contain costs through this difficult market.”

John Lewis will open a store in Liverpool next week.

Meanwhile, grocery stablemate Waitrose reported a 7.8 per cent rise in sales during the same week to£78.17 million, aided by the warm weather.

The John Lewis Partnership reported total sales up 4 per cent to£124.69 million for the week.