Sales at John Lewis fell in the week to 29 October, with takings down in all but one store and much slower growth from the website.

Sales were down 2.5% excluding VAT, or 0.7% including VAT. The only store to show an increase in sales was the John Lewis at Home store in Swindon as it celebrated its first anniversary, which managed a 0.5% VAT-inclusive increase.

Eight stores suffered double-digit sales declines, with Bluewater continuing its run of poor form with a 16.1% decline in sales, although John Lewis said its new stores at Stratford, Chester and Tamworth were performing well. Online sales grew 10.8%, well below the 25.1% for the half-year so far.

Head of commercial format and implementation Tim Harrison blamed the mild weather over half-term for the weak results. Fashion was the only buying group to show an increase in sales, up 1%, but Christmas gifts, lighting, IT, telecoms and heating were singled out for their good performances.

This week John Lewis completed the roll-out of click and collect into 60 more Waitrose shops, and Harrison said the week to come is a “real opportunity to impress customers with our finest product and presentation” as refurbishment and development work in the stores finishes for Christmas.

Waitrose’s sales for the week were also behind the run-rate for the half-year so far with sales up 7.5%. Warm weather products such as quiches and salads sold unusually well for the time of year, but this year’s sales of pumpkins and fireworks were also described as being good.

  • John Lewis has pulled out of the longstanding plans for the Tithebarn development site in Preston city centre. The developer Lend Lease is now going back to the drawing board with its plans, while John Lewis is reported to be considering a smaller store out of town.