Department store group John Lewis has suffered another tough week, with sales down 7.6 per cent as customers continue to rein in spending.

For the week to October 18, John Lewis said the fall of half-term made annual comparisons difficult, because in many areas of the country the holiday occured in different weeks this year. But the retailers also said the economic climate and consequent consumer caution in spending led to a “disappointing week”.

Womenswear, particularly footwear, performed the strongest, and girlswear and babywear delivered growth well above that of last year's level.

The Northern department stores performed the best, with Aberdeen up 7 per cent. Newcastle and Edinburgh also had a strong week. Some of the Southern branches struggled – for example, Brent Cross was down 16.4 per cent, High Wycombe dropped 22.2 per cent and Southampton fell 19.9 per cent.

Four of John Lewis’ department stores – Welwyn, Brent Cross, Peter Jones and Reading – suffered flooding.

Grocer Waitrose recorded a 0.5 per cent lift over the week and said its promotions continued to “exceed expectations”. Star performers were a free custard deal with a pie or crumble and a vegetable bundle, consisting of a bag of five seasonal vegetables for£4.

Overall, sales at the John Lewis Partnership were down 2.9 per cent for the week.