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John Lewis starts the year on a high

JOHN Lewis has reported one of its healthiest starts to a financial year.

Total sales in the first week of February were up 32 per cent.

Fashion, including lingerie snapped up for Valentine’s Day – led sales gains by rising 47 per cent as new season ranges came into stores.

John Lewis's flagship store in Oxford Street led London sales with a 34 per cent surge.
The strongest growth in the South East was at Bluewater where there was a 50 per cent increase

Meanwhile Waitrose, the group's grocery chain, made a 9 per cent gain in sales in the same week.

Howard Archer, chief economist IHS Global Insight said: "Despite the robust John Lewis performance, we continue to suspect that the upside for consumer spending will be limited in 2010 as households face still very challenging conditions, notably including high unemployment, still markedly falling full-time employment, low earnings growth, high debt levels, and January's VAT (sales tax) hike."