John Lewis, the biggest department store group, said its sales fell slightly last week compared with the same period last year, as mild autumn weather outweighed strong demand for Christmas-related products.

John Lewis' sales in the week ending November 19 were 85.2 million pounds, up 11.6 percent on the previous week, but down 3.2 percent from a year earlier, the employee-owned retailer said on Sunday.

We are pleased to see a strong uplift in week-on-week sales, albeit at a slower rate than last year, Lesley Ballantyne, John Lewis' director of operational development, said in a statement.

Momentum would no doubt have been greater if it wasn't for the unseasonably mild weather, but we have put in a strong performance nonetheless.

British 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 of bed linen and cushions were strong last week, as were sales of advent calendars, Christmas decorations, and gift items such as toys, perfume, and handbags.

Sales through John Lewis' department stores were outpaced last week by its internet sales, which rose 18 percent year-on-year, the group added.

(Reporting by Myles Neligan; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)