Department stores have reported a bumper Christmas, during which they benefited from the cold weather and an influx of tourists drawn by the weak pound.

Employee-owned John Lewis said like-for-like sales rose 12.7% over the five weeks to January 2. Total sales at the 28-store group were up 15.8%. Fashion sales rocketed 22% while home jumped 19.6% and electricals and home technology rose 11.4%.

John Lewis managing director Andy Street said: “Customers have responded extremely well to our offer and are clearly motivated by inspiring products, great value and exceptional service.”

Harrods managing director Michael Ward told Retail Week that the Knightsbridge department store had a “good” Christmas. “We have seen the return very strongly of our local customers,” he said.

“This has been helped by tourists and visitors.” He added that the retailer had a “good result across all core categories”.

Fortnum & Mason chief executive Beverley Aspinall echoed Ward’s comments as the luxury store benefited from both overseas visitors and recession-weary shoppers closer to home.

Fortnum & Mason’s “amazing” December saw it notch up a 10% sales increase over the month.

Selfridges reported a stellar Christmas with sales leaping 16% in December up to Christmas. Chief executive Paul Kelly said: “The Sale has been great. We’ll be out of Sale this Thursday, which is earlier than previous years.”

House of Fraser is also understood to have had a strong Christmas. Debenhams, which pursued its planned strategy of heavy promotional activity in the run-up to Christmas, will update the City on Tuesday.

However, while the Christmas figures looked strong, department store chiefs remained cautious about the coming year. Kelly said: “We have to be confident but remain a little cautious and plan for unforeseen circumstances.”

Six-hour Boxing Day

Selfridges chief executive Paul Kelly has called for Sunday trading laws to be relaxed on Boxing Day 2010.

Because Boxing Day falls on a Sunday this year, it will be subject to the six-hour only trading laws. Kelly said: “You cannot fit into six hours what you do in 10 to 12 hours on a normal Boxing Day.”

Many retailers - including Harrods - launched their Sales on Boxing Day in 2009 as it fell on a Saturday, and many retailers - including Tesco - opened many more stores that day than the previous year.