UK retailer John Lewis basks in bumper pre-Christmas

LONDON Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:25am EST

LONDON Dec 26 (Reuters) - John Lewis reported a strong increase in sales in the week leading up to Christmas, boosted by online orders as internet shopping accounts for an ever growing slice of Britain's retail spend.

Sales in the week to Dec. 22 at the country's biggest department store group rose 26.5 percent to 157.8 million pounds ($254.7 million) compared with last year. Its website broke its daily sales record with 7.8 million pounds on Dec. 17.

The store will announce its five-week trading update on Jan. 4.

John Lewis said it had more Christmas Day customers online than ever before, with shoppers up by almost a quarter from the same day last year and sales rising 40 percent. Laptops, Egyptian cotton sheets, TVs and tablet computers were particularly popular

Online retailer Amazon earlier this month it expected Christmas Day sales at its British arm to be the busiest ever.

Analysts expect Boxing Day to be the busiest online shopping day nationally this year with a predicted 472.5 million pounds in sales.

In retail outlets nationwide, experts Springboard said 22 percent more people had gone shopping during the first three hours of Boxing Day trading than last year.

Despite steep cuts in state spending that have hit many households since 2010, Britons spent more on Christmas presents this year than last, a poll in newspaper The Times showed on Wednesday.