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Fashion strong as sales pick up at John Lewis

Sales at John Lewis fell by 1.3% to £57.42 million over the week to November 1 2008, but improved on the previous week thanks to cold weather and half term.

The drop is the seventh decline in a row for the department store group, but represents a much smaller fall than the 9.8 percent reported the week before.

The retailer said colder weather and a later half term for many schools gave sales a helpful boost.

However, sales at the 27-store retailer's fashion directive were up by 5.4% over the week with sales of footwear up by over a third. Womenswear notched up a double-figure increase and outerwear and branded fashion had strong week.

However the retailer said the best results came from accessories, with new ranges in shoes, lower-priced handbags and a seasonal lift in gloves, scarves and slippers boosting sales. The strength of accessories also kept the menswear category in positive territory.

John Lewis's Trafford Centre and Oxford Street stores were the only two stores in overall positive territory over the week, with sales up 8.3% and 0.2% respectively.

John Lewis director of operations Patrick Lewis said: "Looking ahead, the pundits might be forecasting slower trade, but the next seven weeks offer us a fantastic opportunity. We have a great offer, and footfall in our shops will now grow consistently week on week."

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