John Lewis sales hit by fine weather

John Lewis, Britain’s biggest department store chain, said today hot weather held back last week’s sales growth, as shoppers spent more time outdoors, in addition to tough comparative numbers last year.

The retailer said department store sales rose 6.5 per cent to £57.9m in the week to March 24. This was a slowdown from the previous week’s stellar growth of 20.9 per cent, thanks to Mother’s Day sales and the launch of the new iPad.

John Lewis has been outperforming the wider retail market as its more affluent customers have been less impacted by the economic downturn.

"The latest John Lewis sales are respectable and the overall performance for March has been strong, which provides some welcome and much-needed encouraging news on the consumer front," said IHS Global Insight chief economist Howard Archer.

However Waitrose, also owned by John Lewis, reported a sales increase of 5.9 per cent to £106.1m for last week due to an increased demand for barbecue lines.