John Lewis's strong sales growth flattered by snow last year
* Week to Jan. 18 dept store sales up 23.4 pct
* Year-on-year comparative weak due to snow last year
* Waitrose sales up 6.0 pct
LONDON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Britain's biggest department store group John Lewis continued its strong start to 2014 with a 23.4 percent jump in weekly sales, though the outcome was flattered by snow last year ago which meant comparatives were weak.
The employee-owned firm said on Friday department store sales were 73.4 million pounds ($122.1 million) in the week to Jan. 18, up from 59.5 million in the same period last year.
"The last week showed that we are running to the end of the (2013-14 financial) year in great form. A strong week's sales was further flattered by snow disruption a year ago," it said.
"A sign of that success was that every branch posted an increase on a year ago," it noted, adding that online sales growth was 16.6 percent.
Though official UK retail data published last week showed the sector recorded its fastest annual sales growth in more than nine years last month, Christmas trading updates from major store groups have shown mixed results.
Retailers remain wary as inflation continues to outstrip average pay rises.
John Lewis was one of the clear winners as Christmas. The firm has been winning market share from high-street rivals in recent years due to its strong online offering, modern stores and a relatively affluent customer base.
"Despite John Lewis's healthy performance, there is significant uncertainty as to how robust consumer spending will be in the early months of 2014," said Howard Archer, chief economist IHS Global Insight.
He pointed to the CBI distributive trades survey published on Thursday which showed British retail sales growth slowed in the first part of January.
John Lewis also owns upmarket grocery chain Waitrose. Its week to Jan. 18 sales rose 6.0 percent to 115 million pounds.
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