The BNZ-Business New Zealand Performance of Service Index fell almost 2.9 points to 52 in the month.
A reading above 50 indicates the sector is expanding.
BNZ head of research Stephen Toplis says confidence in the services sector remains remarkably strong, given the Canterbury earthquake, the Southland storms, the softness in the housing market and the post-GST sales malaise.
But Mr Toplis says retailers remain under pressure as shoppers watch their spending closely.
Both the new orders and sales categories reversed gains made in September, employment remained flat, and supplier deliveries fell.