John Lewis like-for-likes were up 6.2% in the 5 weeks to 31 December 2011 as the retailer notched up an “outstanding performance”.

Total sales grew 9.3% to £596m, but the retailer warned that 2012 will “undoubtedly be challenging”.

Compared with two years ago, total sales surged 19.1% while like-for-like sales rocketed 14.4%.

In the five week period, John Lewis said it made market share gains in all categories. Electricals and home technology sales grew 4% year-on-year, while fashion increased 10.3%. Home surged 13.6%.

Online sales jumped 27.9%, breaking through the £600m barrier in the year to date.

In the week ending  December 17, John Lewis had its biggest week ever, with overall sales totalling £133.1m across stores and online.

The fourth week of the period - Sunday December 18 to Saturday December 24 - saw sales rocket 32.7% to £124.7m. John Lewis called this a “very strong performance even with an extra day’s trade that week”.

However in the fifth week of the period - Sunday December 25 - Saturday December 31 - sales dropped 4.8% to £101.3m. John Lewis said it was up against tough comparables – the corresponding week the previous year saw sales jump ahead of the Vat rise in January 2011.

John Lewis managing director Andy Street said: “Sales during the four weeks to Christmas Eve were outstanding.

“The first week of clearance saw a very strong start, but against the pre-VAT increase week in 2010, it was always going to be a challenge to match sales, particularly with ‘big ticket’ items.

“The strength of our online operation was very much in evidence during this key five week period, confirming our strength as a pre-eminent multi-channel retailer.”

The department store’s click and collect service saw a 90% increase in usage.

Street added: “Above all our success can be attributed to the excellent service delivered by our Partners as well as inspiring products and outstanding value.

“Although trade in 2012 will undoubtedly be challenging and economic conditions volatile, John Lewis will continue to be the trusted retailer of choice for our customers and will always fulfill its ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ promise.”