John Lewis enjoyed a strong week in the seven days to 23 July, helped by the week’s wet weather.

Sales were up by 7.1% excluding VAT, or 9.1% if the tax is included. recorded a massive 45.6% increase in sales, driven by fashion and schoolwear.

At a store level, Cambridge led the way with a 13.1% VAT-inclusive sales rise, while on the same basis 13 stores experienced a sales fall, with Reading the weakest performer with a 10.8% decline.

Electricals and home technology continued to perform well, led by IT, while home delivered its best showing of the half outside Easter and Clearance. In fashion, Thomas Pink, Triumph’s new Essence lingerie range and Barbour were key brands.

Waitrose sales were up 7.4%, below average for the year so far. Commercial director Mark Williamson said there is a clear trend for shoppers to focus on value, with the Essential Waitrose value range now accounting for 18% of sales, worth £819m. Cheaper cuts of meat also performed well.

However, at the other end of the assortment, shoppers were also trading down from restaurant dining to premium ready meals. The Menu From Waitrose range was up 32%. Indian takeaway meals also grew strongly, up 38%, again reflecting shoppers trading out of takeaways.