John Lewis cashed in ahead of the subdued Christmas period

Helen Cahill
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Mulberry handbags were particularly popular in the clearance sales (Source: John Lewis)

John Lewis cashed in in the lead-up to Christmas, before families deserted festive shopping on the high street for feasting at the dinner table.

For the week starting 19 December, the department store made sales totaling £175.6m. Christmas Day and Boxing Day - when most John Lewis shops are shut - took place during the comparative week in 2015, meaning sales jumped 36 per cent year-on-year in 2016.

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The following week, John Lewis took £138.5m at the tills, down 9.4 per cent year-on-year.

It was a similar story at Waitrose, with sales jumping 31.1 per cent year-on-year in the week before Christmas. During the week of Christmas day and Boxing day, sales fell 12.5 per cent.

"As expected, entertaining was a key theme throughout the two week period with customers getting ready to impress their guests," said Rupert Thomas, marketing director at Waitrose. "Party food was up 14 per cent, Christmas cakes were up nine per cent and frozen desserts were up 11 per cent."

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Maggie Porteous, director for shop trade at John Lewis, said the busiest shopping hour over the period was between 6pm and 7pm on Christmas eve, as shoppers logged on to take advantage of the retailer's clearance sale.

And some shoppers were still busy on Christmas day itself, with the online orders peaking between 9pm and 10pm. Mulberry handbags were one of the best-selling items in the Christmas clearance, along with Dyson vacuum cleaners and Samsung television sets.

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