Britain's biggest department store chain John Lewis said sales rose last week as heavy snow prompted its shoppers to switch to the firm's internet offer.

The employee-owned retailer said on Friday its sales rose 4.1 percent to 52.3 million pounds in the week to February 11.

The start of the week saw the cold wind of winter bite with snow across much of the east and south of the country but overall we had a positive week -- an endorsement of our multi-channel approach as customers chose to keep warm and shop online, said director David Barford.

The start of the week had the biggest snow impact with a 22.3 percent drop on last year. The remainder of the week saw some great bounce backs with Tuesday (February 7) putting on the biggest increase at 12.8 percent. sales rose 43.9 percent.

Many UK retailers are struggling as consumers grapple with inflation, muted wage growth and government austerity measures, and worry about job security and a stagnant housing market.

John Lewis has, however, been outperforming the wider market as its more affluent customers have been less impacted by the economic downturn.

The group also owns upmarket grocery chain Waitrose. Here week to February 11 sales rose 5.5 percent to 101.7 million pounds.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Matthew Scuffham)