John Lewis sales soared 38.7% to £74.7m in the week to January 8, making it the largest weekly increase this financial year.

The retailer said it benefited from an additional bank holiday this year compared to last, as well as the rise in VAT, as shoppers sought to beat the increase.

It also benefited from last year’s soft comparables, when snow in the same week in 2010 gave John Lewis a  “great advantage midweek” this year.

The retailer experienced a footfall surge of 68% on Monday January 3.

The department store said all three categories – fashion, home, and electricals – “had a storming week” but said Home outperformed, with sales increasing 43% as sales of gifts and decorative accessories increased 53%, while furniture jumped 47%.

Fashion sales leapt 35%, driven by menswear and sports.

The department store said delivered “another amazing performance” with an increase of 42%, with white goods selling particularly well.

Home also had a good week online, with furniture sales up 41%. Online fashion sales jumped 33 per cent.

John Lewis head of selling operations, at home, Maggie Porteous, said: “We are now moving rapidly towards the end of a very successful trading year. With that comes a focus on ‘getting our house in order’, be that if we work in head office or in the shops, where stocktaking is now under way. These last few weeks of the trading year are vital in ensuring that we end the year profitably and with a strong platform for 2011.”

High Wycombe was the best performing store, with sales up 73.3%.

At sister chain Waitrose, the upmarket grocer, sales in the week were up 2.6% to £95.02m, with sales “distorted by the fall of the New Year bank holiday and a spike in sales this time last year prior to the wintry weather”.

Strong performing lines included flowers which were up by 44%, frozen desserts which grew 28% and kitchenware which increased 21%.