John Lewis finds a few reasons to be cheerful

John Lewis gave some cause for Christmas cheer yesterday, revealing that its sales last week reached £85.2m, an increase of 11.6 per cent over the previous seven days.

However, the department stores chain revealed that sales were still 3.2 per cent lower than in the same week last year.

The company's Christmas marketing campaign is proving a winner, with a TV commercial showing a young boy's preparations for Christmas being watched on YouTube more than two million times.

John Lewis said beds, bedding, cushions, iPads and Kindle e-readers are among its biggest-selling items at the moment as shoppers stock up on Christmas presents. Lesley Ballantyne, director of operational development, acknowledged that the "challenging" retail environment and the "unseasonably mild weather" had dented sales at Lewis's 35 department stores last week.