Sales at department store chain John Lewis tumbled 3.4% last week but the year-on-year comparison was muddied by the timing of its Sale.

The retailer reported revenues of £64.7m in the period to July 2 and said performance had been “solid” when it was taken into account that the Sale this year earlier than in 2010.

John Lewis electricals and home technology buying director Robbie Feather said: “The underlying picture is much stronger, with sales up a very healthy 9% year-on-year across the first 10 days of clearance.”

Fashion sales fell 5.2% as shoppers switched their bargain focus away from clothing and into electricals and home technology, up 7.6%. The home category was down 8.9%.

No stores generated a sales increase over the week but during the 10 days of clearance 14 delivered revenue uplifts.

Online sales rose 18.9% and Feather noted: “It was particularly good to see strength coming through in big-ticket items.”

Feather said: “Looking forward, the market looks challenging but all indicators suggest we will continue to outperform our competition against all three directorates.”

Turnover at grocery chain Waitrose jumped 9.2% over the week to £106.2m.

Sales of biscuits rose 26%. Waitrose retail director Tony Solomons said the increase was “perhaps following last week’s episode of The Apprentice which featured candidates pitching their biscuit ideas to buyers at our cookery school in London.”