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Battle for the festive pound is under way

THE high street price war has heated up as shops focus both on luring shoppers away from the internet and beating competition from neighbouring shops.<br /><br />London&rsquo;s West End shopping district enjoyed its best trade for two years over the weekend as 2m shoppers flocked to a traffic-free Oxford Street, spending over &pound;200m in one day and prompting hopes of a retail recovery.<br /><br />Bellwether John Lewis yesterday revealed last week was its best ever with sales of &pound;102.4m. The department store chain said that a festive spending boost hiked sales by 13.8 per cent up on the same week last year, and almost &pound;1m ahead of the previous record week set in 2007.<br /><br />However, in fresh evidence of the evolving retail landscape, director of selling operations Nat Wakeley admitted that John Lewis Direct &ndash; it&rsquo;s online offering &ndash; now takes more than its biggest flagship store on Oxford Street.<br /><br />Today is set to be &ldquo;mega Monday&rdquo; &ndash; traditionally the busiest day for buying.&nbsp; Online entertainment retailer Play.com said yesterday it expects sales to soar today by 20 per cent year-on-year and process between 1,000 and 1,100 orders per minute at peaking trading hours today. <br /><br />Meanwhile Asos chief executive Nick Robertson told City A.M. that the retailer was giving shoppers the incentives of same day delivery or free delivery to make sure customers chose to shop with them instead of venturing out onto the high street.<br /><br />Despite the downturn, the fashion retailer enjoyed a 112 per cent sales growth last year, but Robertson said that it would be tough to match that and planned for 20 per cent sales growth this year.