Shoppers racing to snap up warmer clothing as the autumnal weather set in gave a much-needed boost to trade last week, the John Lewis Partnership has reported.
The group said total sales across its department stores and Waitrose supermarkets rose 0.9% in the week to October 4, thanks also to the launch of this year's Christmas collection.
Sales in the department stores dipped by 0.5%, but the fall was a marked improvement on the 8.3% plunge seen the previous week.
The firm said sales of hot water bottles shot up by 200% in the week, while women's shoes also had a strong week in the department stores.
Its 27 John Lewis outlets and the online business notched up sales of £51.6 million, suggesting an early autumn lift for trading, which had been flagging as consumers tightened their belts.
The end of the week even saw double digit increases in the department store division, with sales racing ahead by 14% on the Saturday.
"It was tremendous to see a much better week last week, significantly better than the prior fortnight and getting much closer to showing an increase," said Nat Wakely, director of selling operations at John Lewis.
"The Christmas Shop opened in branch this week to extremely favourable comments from both our partners and customers alike, with some clear product winners already showing in its first week. Our seasonal gift food assortment continues to build a pace, too, giving us even greater confidence in the seasonal package for the weeks ahead."
The online business, johnlewis.com, and its flagship Oxford Street branch helped offset falls elsewhere, with sales ahead 30% and 9% respectively.
But other stores were still coming under pressure from a general slowdown in the retail sector.
John Lewis in Peterborough suffered a 13.5% sales drop and the Welwyn store fell 11.3%.
In its supermarket business, Waitrose saw sales rise 1.9% to £74.95 million, again seeing an improvement on the previous week, when trade dropped by 0.7%.