John Lewis saw operating profit fall back 34.4% to £40 million on a total sales rise 0.5% to £1.24 billion for the half year ended July 26.
Like-for-like sales at John Lewis fell 1% over the six month period.
Despite the challenging market conditions John Lewis said it had gained market share in fashion. Fashion sales rose 5% over the period. John Lewis Direct continued to perform strongly over the half with sales up 30%.
In the first six weeks since the half ended, John Lewis sales are up 2.7%, but down 0.4% on a like for like basis.
John Lewis Partnership chairman Charlie Mayfield said: "After the initial shock of the credit crunch last summer, the economic climate has become progressively more difficult, consumer confidence has hit a record low and the retail market has slowed markedly."
Mayfield added: "Our first half performance reflects the challenging trading environment, our response to those conditions, a particularly strong performance in the first half of 2007 and our continued investment in growing and developing our business."
"We remain cautious about the outlook for the rest of 2008 and 2009. Our long-term approach to the Partnership, with our strong commitment to Partners and customer service, positions us well to ride out the downturn and take advantage of the recovery in confidence when it comes."
On Monday John Lewis announced that supermodel Karen Elson was to be the face of its autumn advertising campaign, which will be its biggest fashion campaign yet.