Department store chain John Lewis has reported record weekly sales - raising hopes that retailers will be able to make up for trade lost during the snow.
The group, which is seen as a bellwether of Britain’s high street and has a flagship store in Solihull, said it rang up £121 million of sales in the week to Saturday December 11, marking the most taken in a week.
The figure was up 16.7 per cent on the previous week when arctic conditions snowed in many shoppers.
Supermarket Waitrose, also owned by the John Lewis Partnership, likewise reported robust sales as the cold weather eased in many parts of the country.
The food chain saw total sales rise 9 per cent year-on-year to £113 million.
Economist Howard Archer, of IHS Global Insight, said the John Lewis figures may help ease fears over Christmas trading.
He said: “Retailers may still have a decent Christmas after all, despite the hit to activity from the bad weather.
“One proviso is that in recent times John Lewis have been comfortably outperforming the retail sector as a whole.
“Another major concern for retailers is that more cold weather is forecast this coming week. With Christmas falling on a Saturday, next weekend’s trading is going to be of major importance to retailers.”
Severe winter weather disrupts retail trade not only because it stops many consumers getting to the shops but also because it interrupts supply chains.
Tesco said last week that snow had damaged its recent trading, while music and games retailer HMV said it is concerned about a “significant” drop in so-called consumer footfall in shops during the bad weather at the start of its key festive trading period.
Mr Archer said bad weather usually acts only as a temporary knockback to Christmas sales, with trade made up later in the season.
But forecasts of further snow this week pose a threat.
“More bad weather would increase the likelihood that some people may end up buying less Christmas presents due to time constraints,” said Mr Archer.