John Lewis has reported a drop of 9.8 per cent in its weekly sales and said the third quarter of the year has ended on a “subdued note”.

For the week ending October 25, the department store group said the third-quarter ending coincided with the confirmation that the UK economy shrank during this period. It said the effect can clearly be seen in its trade, with “a distinct softening since the summer”.

The group reported sales down 25.7 per cent in Milton Keynes, 19.6 per cent in Nottingham, 17.3 per cent in Brent Cross, 15.3 per cent in Bluewater and 11 per cent down even at London’s Oxford Street.

John Lewis managing director Andy Street said: “The shops did a very good job in clearly communicating our matching of prices during competitors’ extravaganzas. This helped drive footfall; thus the premium beauty departments continued their impressive form.”

Street said women’s accessories enjoyed a good week and in menswear, accessories also led the way. He said home and electricals were harder hit.

“For sure, it is going to be a testing Christmas, but our readiness is second to none. Our offer is innovative, our value as good as ever, the opportunities for arresting promotion are plentiful and our supply chain partners are ready for their best Christmas operation ever.”

For the same week, Waitrose reported a weekly sales lift of 0.6 per cent. The grocer said the colder week, with sunny spells and rain, brought an uplift in demand for soups, comfort desserts and the popular vegetable bundle. It said Halloween attracted interest, with large numbers of pumpkins sold, while there were early sales of Christmas goods.