Sales at John Lewis have suffered from the calendar effect of the fall of Easter this year, slumping 6.7 per cent in the week to April 4.

Sales at the department store chain totalled £45.4m in the week.

The retailer said that the figures are “in line with our cumulative striking rate to date this year”.

None of the retailer’s 27 branches or its online arm, John Lewis Direct, beat last year’s figures. However, John Lewis added that the figures hide a strong performance from fashion, up 1 per cent, and a growing uplift in seasonal merchandise in the run-up to Easter.

Womenswear, accessories and beauty and childrenswear all performed ahead of expectations, according to the retailer. Women’s brands reported “strong” single-digit growth, while separates and outerwear were up nearly 20 per cent.

John Lewis selling operations director Nat Wakely said the seasonal gift assortment is “romping ahead, beating the seasonally adjusted target to make up for the change in the fall of Easter, by 17 per cent last week”. He added that he was confident the retailer will record a “successful seasonal result” the other side of Easter.

Waitrose, the grocery arm of The John Lewis Partnership, revealed a robust 5.8 per cent increase in sales to £79.7m during the week, with like-for-like food sales ahead of budget.

Customer numbers swelled with the start of the spring weather and Easter promotions helped increase sales of roasting joints and Easter confectionery.

During the week Waitrose opened its 200th store at Islington in London and announced its first ever franchise deal, to open two stores at Welcome Break service stations.
The John Lewis Partnership notched up sales of £125.1m during the period - a 0.9 per cent increase on the previous week.