Sales growth at department store chain John Lewis was flat last week, when revenues came in at £53.4m.
The 0.1% rise in the period to May 14 was described as “creditable” but John Lewis retail director Andrew Murphy said conditions are tough.
Murphy told colleagues: “Emerging from a long period where true like-for-like comparisons have been virtually impossible to determine, we are confronted by an undoubtedly challenging retail market.
“However, our operational focus should be less on high-level data and economic prophecies than on the things we can directly influence and control, namely: the provision of a great assortment and delivery of exceptional customer service.
“If we focus on these and other things that we know represent great retailing, then we will automatically make our financial objectives more achievable and sustain our well-established outperformance of our competitors through another year.”
Fashion sales fell 1% over the week and home was down 2%. Electricals and home technology sales climbed 5% however, as demand for the iPad2 and other computer ranges was strong.
Sales at johnlewis.com advanced 18%. Peter Jones in London, and John Lewis’s shops in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow were the only stores to record sales rises.
Sales at stablemate grocery chain Waitrose climbed 10.8% over the week to £101.6m, helped by a £10 meal-for-two deal and demand for barbecue foods.