John Lewis signals a good start to winter sales

John Lewis Partnership, the department store and Waitrose supermarket group, provided the first signal yesterday that the winter sales had got off to a flying start. In the week to 3 January, the first week after Christmas, sales in John Lewis's department stores were a remarkable 33.4 per cent ahead of the same week last year. Some of this gain was because the stores were open for an extra day but the group was still jubilant.

"People were definitely feeling the need to spend," a spokeswoman said. "A lot of people took two weeks holiday and they came out shopping because they felt they were going to get really good bargains."