Sluggish sales for department stores
Sales at the John Lewis Parntership rose 9.3 per cent to£124.6 million for the week to May 5 as the bank holiday weather and calendar effect led to mixed fortunes across its divisions.

Meanwhile, sales at Waitrose jumped 14.7 per cent to£77.5 million for the week, driven by barbecue and meat sales following April's hot weather.

The department store division posted a sluggish rise of 1.4 per cent to£46.84 million, skewed by tough comparatives last year when the May Day bank holiday fell a week earlier.

The retailer said rain on the bank holiday Monday helped drive sales up 30 per cent that day against the equivalent day last year, which will make up lost ground.

Fashion and own-label led sales growth, while childrenswear, toys and crafts slid.

John Lewis director retail operations Patrick Lewis said: 'With the weather turning and more new lines arriving over the next 10 days, we look well set to take advantage of any pent-up demand over the coming fortnight.'