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John Lewis said its strategy of matching competitor prices in recent weeks had paid off despite a 6 per cent fall in department store sales, as its website achieved record levels of sales for the second week running, outshining traditional outlets.

“Given our commitment to match prices during competitors’ extravaganzas, partners in every single shop had to work doubly hard to come near to last year’s sales. I judge we handled this well, and have reinforced our customers’ trust in our pricing policy. That is crucial for the future,” Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis said.

Johnlewis.com, the partnership’s web operation, saw record trade in the week to December 13, with sales rising by 13.4 per cent. All of its established bricks and mortar stores were in negative territory, bar Cambridge, where sales rose by 1.3 per cent. Of its 25 established stores, 17 reported double-digit declines in sales.

The previous week, the website also had a record week, while stores reported declines in sales.

Sales for the department stores arm, which include the website operation, were £95.3m compared with £101.5m last time in the week to December 13.

Electricals and home technology sales rose by 2.1 per cent, but fashion sales were down 7.8 per cent and the home division’s sales were 11.4 per cent lower.

John Lewis believes next week could see a peak in trade with Christmas falling late in the week.

At Waitrose, the supermarket chain, sales were 0.5 per cent ahead of last year, as cold weather led to higher demand for meat and vegetables. Dairy products, frozen food, wine, beers and spirits reported above average sales. The partnership’s first convenience store, in Nottingham, traded well.

John Lewis partnership sales were 2.9 per cent down overall at £188.4m for the week.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.

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