Sales at John Lewis department stores advanced 7% to £69.4m last week.

The rate of growth, in the week to October 20, was lower than recent weeks when the retailer achieved double-digit growth. Milder weather and tougher comparisons had an effect.

John Lewis reported that electrical and home technology was the top category, up 12.5% despite the fact that consumers’ anticipation of new product launches meant that some held back purchases and footfall fell. 

The retailer expects a strong week from today, benefiting from the launches of Windows 8 and the Kindle Fire and likely colder weather. 

Fashion sales rose 6% in the week. Womenswear was the strongest performer at 11.3% due in part to a strong performance from John Lewis Collections. 

Home sales advanced 4.7% and furniture led the way. Beds sold particularly well, and lighting sales surged 13.2%. 

The retailer added that customers are beginning to think about Christmas and its Gifts We Love promotions helped boost gift purchases. Food gifts and home and gift collections did well. 

Online sales surged 31%, driven by fashion which rocketed 39%. Stores reported mix results as 16 achieved growth and Swindon came top with an 8.8% rise. John Lewis said its first small department store in Exeter, which opened earlier this month, has exceeded expectations in its first full trading week. 

John Lewis’ sister supermarket business Waitrose also posted lower sales growth last week, up 4.1% to £109.4m against tough comparatives last year when it offered customers a 25% off wine promotion. 

Despite the slowdown in growth Waitrose said it was a “strong” performance and reported that customers are preparing for Christmas earlier than usual this year. 

Christmas confectionery rocketed 42% year-on-year while advent calendars are selling at triple the rate of last year. Sales of baked goods have surged 26%. 

Halloween has also led customers to stock up on accessories and outfits. John Lewis said more parents seem to be planning parties or trick or treating because the day falls within the half-term holiday. Sales across the range are “significantly” up on last year by 12% so far. 

The grocer said sales of its mini pumpkin, the ‘Munchkin’ pumpkin which sells for £1, were up 29% on last year. 

Soup sales were up 30% and slow-cook joints of meat increased 25%, as colder, darker evenings drew in.