"Click and collect" overtook home deliveries at John Lewis over Christmas – as the retailer relied on internet purchases to boost sales during the festive period.
Online takings grew by 19 per cent, representing 36 per cent of trade, with the click and collect delivery option accounting for more than half (56 per cent) of online orders.
Despite counter sales falling by around one per cent, like-for-like sales across the retailer grew by 4.8 per cent for the five weeks to 27 December. Total sales were £777 million.
Managing director Andy Street said despite the fall, the sales performance from its outlets was ahead of rivals.
"I am utterly confident that our shop result will beat the market," he said.
The 150-year-old company's like-for-like store sales for the year-to-date were ahead by about 2.5 per cent, but its reliance on online reflects a growing trend in retail - with recent Christmas figures from Next also showing web sales led the way as it posted a solid performance.
However, John Lewis is also pressing ahead with plans to grow its store numbers from 42 currently to 65, with a focus on locations such as Birmingham, Leeds and Oxford.
Establishing a physical shop presence is seen by Mr Street as key to winning internet customers - so that they can browse products in store before placing orders or use them as locations to pick up click and collect purchases.
Mr Street said: "The role of the shop is absolutely critical in providing the online sales."
John Lewis Christmas advert 2014
John Lewis Christmas advert 2014
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Monty and Sam do everything together and the advert follows them playing happily through the year, from hide and seek to football.
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Set to the track 'Real Love', sung by Tom Odell and originally written and recorded by John Lennon, the heartwarming advert tells the tale of an unlikely friendship between a little boy, Sam, and his penguin friend, Monty
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4/13 John Lewis Advert 2014
Monty is happy playing with other birds, but he soon grows lonely
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6/13 John Lewis Advert 2014
A scene from the 2014 John Lewis Christmas advert
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As the winter months draw in, Sam begins to notice that Monty is sad and realises that he is longing for a companion
8/13 John Lewis Advert 2014
Sam has just the treat in store to help Monty this Christmas
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10/13 John Lewis Advert 2014
11/13 John Lewis Advert 2014
Knowing his friend so well, on Christmas Day Sam gives Monty the gift he has been dreaming of – a new penguin friend called Mabel
12/13 John Lewis Advert 2014
13/13 John Lewis Advert 2014
Featuring the strapline 'Give someone the Christmas they’ve been dreaming of', Monty and Mabel have been created using complex CGI technology to look and behave exactly like real life Adélie penguins.
John Lewis said the standout event had been the success of its Black Friday promotions, which resulted in record sales during that week at the end of November, and then a lull before trading picked up in the run in Christmas.
"This year confirmed the new shape of trade for Christmas, with an early peak at the end of November driven by Black Friday and last-minute gift buying," said Mr Street.
The group is one of the first in the British sector to report on its performance in the weeks running up to Christmas, a key trading period.
Next said earlier this week it had enjoyed a solid rise in Christmas sales, especially online, without having to resort to the discounting seen on many shopping streets.
Updates are due next week from Marks & Spencer and supermarket groups Tesco and Sainsbury.
For the year ahead, many retailers are more optimistic on their prospects given rising incomes and higher employment.
The John Lewis numbers do not include results from the Waitrose supermarket chain which is part of the wider John Lewis Partnership. Waitrose on 2 January reported a provisional 6.5 percent rise in sales excluding fuel in the two weeks to 27 December.Reuse content