John Lewis , the biggest department store group and traditional retail bellwether, said sales dipped slightly last week compared with the same week last year, hampered by warmer weather and a difficult economy.

John Lewis's sales in the week ended November 26 were 98.7 million pounds, up 15.9 percent on the previous week, but down 1.2 percent from a year earlier, the employee-owned retailer said on Sunday.

Despite the continuing warm weather, to have achieved sales so close to last year shows that Christmas shopping is really taking off, albeit a little later than usual, David Barford, director of selling operations said in a statement.

Retailers have been hit by a drop in spending as shoppers trim their budgets in the face of rising taxes and energy bills, and as slowing economic growth and rising unemployment dent confidence.

John Lewis said sales were driven by Christmas trees, lighting and decorations, as well as bedding and linens.

The company added online sales continued to grow by 18 percent year-on-year.

(Reporting by Adveith Nair; Editing by David Holmes)