John Lewis sales climbed by 1.8% to £65.4m last week thanks to the uncharacteristically warm bank holiday weekend, which meant many of its summer assortments did well.
But overall, the going was more of a struggle than in the previous week, the department store group said.
The home category in particular had a “tough comparison, versus week 14 from last year” but enjoyed excellent gains for outdoor living, with sales in excess of 160%.
John Lewis Head of Retail Change Chris Hooper said: “Twelve months ago we had the benefit of early Olympic activity, so it will be important to draw on every opportunity, and not least stock availability. It is good, then, to see stock levels holding up well, and the distribution team on top of their targets for servicing our operations.”
He added that last week was a good reminder of the evolving nature of the ways that customers choose to engage with the business – in particular with Click & Collect up 44%.
“We now move into a period when we had significant activity last year, not least through the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games,” Chris noted. “There might be less to get excited about this year, but no doubt every sinew will be stretched to ensure we grasp every opportunity that comes along.”
Sister grocery chain Waitrose benefited from the sunny spell too, with weekly sales (excluding petrol) up 11.4% to £119.6m.
Customers bought almost £1m worth of ice cream (28% up on the same time last year), and 77% more cider and gin, while demand for ice rose by 52%.
Waitrose marketing director Rupert Thomas said: “You always know the sun has made a welcome appearance when you take a look at sales of Pimm’s: Pimmsometer. Last week we saw demand leap by an enormous 193% compared to last year.
“People made the most of eating, entertaining and enjoying themselves outdoors. Light food such as salads were up 35%; crisps and snacks also witnessed double-digit growth; and dips and quiches were up by 26 and 24% respectively as picnics were prepared.”
The weather also encouraged many to dust off their barbecues for the first time, causing demand for charcoal to soar fivefold. Tuna steaks – up 77% – were a firm favourite over the weekend, with more traditional burgers and sausages up 33% and 15% respectively.