Department store chain John Lewis said strong sales of e-book readers helped its Christmas trading season get off to a “resilient” start.

The chain - which is opening a flagship store in Birmingha and whose chief executive is chairman of the Birmingham and Solihull LEP - said it was “clearly going to be a very tecky” Christmas after seeing a strong rise in demand for electronics, including e-book readers such as Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle.

Sales of Christmas trees, home furnishings and bedding were also up in the week to Saturday November 12 as shoppers started gearing up for the holiday season.

Overall sales were down 0.8 per cent compared to the same period a year ago, but that represented a resilient performance given the state of economy, it said.

The retailer, which has 32 stores, also claimed the recent mild weather had weakened demand for winter clothing.

Retail director Andrew Murphy said: “Shoppers are cautious but not nervous.

“I think people have got the measure of how things are and they understand that the mood music is going to be a bit volatile, but it takes an awful lot to knock people off their stride before Christmas.

“Given the external factors at work we are pretty happy with that performance.”

He said gifts such as food hampers were also in demand and, in a sign of the times, sales of executive stress-busting toys were also up.

John Lewis launched its new TV advert during The X Factor this weekend. It has already had almost 400,000 views on YouTube in just two days.