Fears of a retail slowdown this Christmas may abate as John Lewis reported a 10 per cent jump in sales last week.

Sales at the department store group – a key barometer of trading on the high street – have picked up following a tentative start to the winter season, which was driven by cold weather and the start of the Christmas party season.

The retailer said sales in the week to November 24 exceeded£78 million. John Lewis’ Oxford Street branch hit a£1 million midweek takings target a week earlier than last year.

In the previous week to November 17, year-on-year sales increased 7 per cent to£71 million.

Eveningwear, lingerie and premium beauty brands have fuelled the growth, according to the retailer.

John Lewis director of retail operations Patrick Lewis said: “The cold, crisp weather has created a festive buzz in our shops and we are very encouraged by these results, which show an excellent increase on strong figures from both last week and last year.

“It is clear that big-name brands are important to shoppers in 2007, with gift-buyers already heading to audio and toys and partygoers heading for the fashion floors, or creating their own bespoke outfits with some help from our haberdashery department.”