John Lewis sales figures plunged by 14% last week fueling fears cash conscience customers are trading down from the high-end stores due to the economic turn down.
This trend appears, at least for the short term, to have benefited Sainsbury's who last week announced third quarter pre-tax profits were up 13.3% to £272m.
John Lewis' supermarket arm Waitrose on the other hand showed a fall of 4.6%, the worst results for the firm in 2008, beating last month's fall of 9.8% - the worst results for the year until today's were published.
Towards the end of October, sales at John Lewis fell by 9.8 per cent, its worst performance this year until today's figures emerged. Earlier this week, the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said that the total value of retail sales in the UK fell for the first time in three years.
Barry Matheson, head of selling development, said: "The newspapers are full of stories about the impact of the credit crunch spreading to the real economy, and retailers are frequently being cited as evidence of that.
"But that in no way diminishes my conviction that we will once again outperform the competition as we get closer to Christmas."
Sales for week 16 in the financial year 2008-09 for John Lewis came to £61.44m compared with last year's £71.48m.