John Lewis reported another tough week, with sales only edging into positive territory thanks to the VAT rise, and all but two stores recording a decrease in sales.

Total sales in the week to 12 February were up 1.4% including VAT, down 0.5% if VAT is taken out. Six stores recorded double digit declines, with Peter Jones and Cambridge the only branches managing sales growth even with VAT included. Online sales grew 31.9% including VAT.

Operational development director Lesley Ballantyne said the performance was pleasing against tough comparisons affected by the timing of Valentine’s Day last year, and that this week should have been helped by an extra day of Valentine’s sales. Sporting events on Saturday were also said to have affected footfall.

Among the buying groups, electricals and home technology were up 2.4% including VAT, fashion up 1.8% and home up 0.8%.

Sales at sister department store chain Waitrose were described as “robust”, up 5.4%, although this was a much slower rate of growth than the same week last year, when sales rose 15.5%. Seafood and the Valentine’s Day meal deal were strong performers.