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Sales in full swing online, even as store retailers await final Christmas shoppers

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Online Christmas sales are already in full swing, even as multichannel retailers wait for the final gift buyers to descend on their stores.

In the run up to Christmas, many have done a roaring trade, although stormy weather appears to have hit the final days before Christmas hard. Fewer shoppers have ventured onto the high streets in wet and windy weather that has spread from the South West to the North and on to Scotland in recent days.

Sales that traditionally fell after Christmas are now well underway at traders from The Body Shop and Gap to eBay . Clearance at John Lewis starts at 5pm this evening, while says it will simply add new items to its existing online sale on Boxing Day.

Retailers will be hoping the sales continue a season which has already seen record spending, online and off. John Lewis says its sales hit £164.4m during the week to December 21, the first time it has ever turned over more than £160m in a week. Sales in the week were 4.2% up on the same week last year, and 31.8% up on the same time two years ago. At sales were 31% up on the same time last year.

The department store said trade had peaked early, and flattened out before a final surge in the last week before Christmas, when sales were up by 9.7% on the previous weeks.

Strong sales of iPads are continuing, with one sold every 10 seconds at John Lewis and suggesting that tablet transactions will become still more significant in 2014. But all three of its directorates – home, technology and fashion – enjoyed a record week.

Paula Nickolds, buying and brand director at John Lewis, said: “It’s clear that much of Britain has yet again taken shopping for Christmas right up to the wire. Buoyed by this week’s record trading, all of our channels are braced for the final three shopping days before Christmas.”

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