Tablet computers outsold desktop PCs for the first time last week at department store chain John Lewis, which posted a total weekly sales rise of 2.6% to £53.4m.

Excluding VAT, John Lewis revenues rose 1% over the period to August 20. Head of corporate sales Simon Williams said it was a creditable performance in volatile conditions.

The electricals and home technology category was the week’s star performer, ahead by 7.7% helped by an “exceptional” week online.

Williams said: “IT sales continued to perform well with strong sales of accessories again mirroring growth in the hardware itself, supported by good availability in key tablet products.

“Large and small electricals also performed well adding another week to a run of strongly positive year-on-year growth.”

Fashion sales rose 4.4% in the week. Womenswear and accessories did well on the back of new brands and good availability. However the home category was down 1.7%.

Five stores achieved year-on-year sales growth and online revenues surged 33.3%.

Williams said: “Against a background of the country returning to post-unrest normality, media reports of falling disposable incomes, extraordinary turbulence in the financial markets and changeable weather, it was encouraging to see sales perform creditably again.”

Sales at grocer Waitrose climbed 9.7% over the week to £95.9m. The retailer said its Essential Waitrose range continues to appeal to “savvy” shoppers  - sales advanced 15.9% over the week.