John Lewis carries on selling

Department store chain John Lewis continued its winning streak as sales jumped 26 per cent in the first week of the January sales following a lucrative festive season.

The group reported sales of £91.8m for the week to January 5 against £73m in 2012, with growth also improving on last year’s 25.7 per cent hike.

The results follow figures last week confirming a buoyant Christmas for the group, with a last-minute rush before the holidays earning it £684.8m in sales in the five weeks to December 29 and like-for-like sales up 13 per cent.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

The group, which has a store in Sheffield, suggested the early launch of new season stock to benefit from high footfall during clearance sales may have contributed to last week’s sales rise.

Electronics sales were especially strong, up 44 per cent on last year thanks to soaring demand for tablet computers.

Nick Bubb, independent retail analyst, said: “Notwithstanding the adverse ‘mix effect’ of so much business coming in low-margin electricals, John Lewis have had a terrific second half, despite tough comparisons.”

Fashion sales were up 20 per cent from last year, with an increased demand for fitness gear – up 19 per cent – and handbags, up 17 per cent.

Howard Archer, chief UK & European economist for IHS Global Insight, suggested the impressive clearance results so far could be attributed to shoppers holding out for the post-Christmas sales.