Sales figures at John Lewis got a boost last week thanks to discounts across its range of fashion items.

Total sales for the department store increased by 0.7 per cent compared to the same period in 2010. The firm was pushed into joining rivals and starting summer promotions early. Discounts of up to 50 per cent off fashion items helped John Lewis improve sales across womenswear, men's brands and women's shoes.

Purchases in the lead up to Father's Day also helped lift sales of beauty items such as fragrances. Further promotions are due to start soon and the business is sure to turn to impressive window displays and advertising online to help push sales.

Maggie Porteous, head of selling operations, new format, at John Lewis, said: "With only a week now left until our clearance starts online and in shops, preparations are hotting up across all of our channels. In the current economic environment it is a great opportunity to capitalise on the extra footfall that we will experience."

The company announced on Wednesday that it plans to invest £7m in a John Lewis at home store in Ashford, Kent. The new site will create around 160 new jobs and is expected to open next autumn.