THE reporting season for retail sales over the festive period got off to a stunning start today as department stores chain John Lewis reported like-for-like growth of 13% for the five weeks to December 29.

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Total sales for the period were 14.8% up on 2011 at £684.8million, representing 25.5% growth compared with two years ago, or 20.1% on a like-for-like basis.

Electricals and Home Technology sales led the way with 30.9% growth compared with 2011, with Fashion, including Beauty, 10.4% up and Home 6.2% ahead.

Online sales for the five weeks were 44.3% up on the previous year, with Johnlewis.com now accounting for a quarter of the total John Lewis business.

The fourth week of the period, to Saturday, December 22, saw record weekly sales of £157.8m, up 26.5% on the equivalent weeks in 2011 and breaking through the £150m barrier for the first time.

The fifth week of the period, to December 29, saw sales of £112.9m, up 11.5% the equivalent week a year earlier, including a record of £31.7m for the first day of clearance on December 27.

Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, said: ‘I am delighted that John Lewis has delivered record breaking sales figures over the Christmas period and the first five days of clearance.

“In an economic climate which continues to be volatile, to have achieved these results is testimony to the strength of the John Lewis brand and the commitment of all our partners to give outstanding service.

“The success of our online operation and our pre-eminence as an omni-channel retailer cannot be underestimated. Sales at johnlewis.com broke through the £800m milestone during December supported by an excellent performance from our Click and Collect facility which allows customers the flexibility to buy online and collect from John Lewis and Waitrose outlets.

“Above all, our success can be attributed to the inspiring and innovative products we offer our customers coupled with their trust that we will always provide the best quality and value and will always fulfil our ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ promise,” he added.

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