Fashion sales dropped 2.6% in the week to March 12 as the department store came up against strong comparatives.
Last year the equivalent period included a Mothers’ Day effect, and John Lewis buying and brand director Peter Ruis said that in context last week’s performance was “creditable” and sales were up 16% on 2009.
He said: “Indeed, when the impact of the Mother’s Day assortments are stripped out of fashion, we had an encouraging week. The launch of our spring fashion campaign is already paying dividends with strong sales on the featured lines and women’s sale or return clothing beating last year by 11%.
He said: “The impact of Mothers’ Day was told in the story of the week’s trade, with a strong start tailing off as the weekend approached. Against this background it was undoubtedly a challenging week for our shops.”
Sales through Johnlewis.com climbed 28.9% with fashion sales online up 50%.
Ruis said: “As we look ahead to the next few weeks, the trading pattern will continue to be complex to read due to the fall of Easter.
“Nevertheless we should have confidence that when customers are ready to spend we are in good shape to take the sale.
“This was underlined on Sunday when, without the distraction of Mothers’ Day, we started the week with a 20% increase.”
Revenues at the department store slipped 1.8% to £52.2m in the week.