Best London sales growth for three years
Retail sales in central London in November were 13.3% higher on a like-for-like basis than a year ago, when sales had fallen 0.4%, as financial turmoil hit consumer confidence especially in the City. Novembers growth was the best since October 2006.
Retail footfall in November rose further above its year-earlier level, to show the best growth since June. Unseasonably mild weather, together with several special sales events and widespread discounts, attracted shoppers into the capital.
Sterling’s weakness, although less marked than last year, continued to attract overseas visitors, especially those from western Europe. Visitors from the Middle East, China and Hong Kong were also good customers for many.
Food sales held up well and instore restaurants benefited from the very wet weather. Shoppers took advantage of special sales events and discounts, giving gains for homewares, furniture, clothing and footwear and fashion accessories. Beauty products did well, with an early start to gift sets for some.
Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "These are great figures - the best sales growth for three years. Remember that this strong growth is compared with sales falls a year ago and many retailers are using promotional events and price cuts to get customers spending but these figures show London retailers have had a very encouraging start to Christmas with even big ticket items doing well.
"The weak pound continues to make London attractive to overseas visitors and November's record rain brought shoppers in from the suburbs, helping central London department stores in particular. Retailers will be hoping customers remain as resilient into the New Year. There are big uncertainties out there and we have yet to see the effect on sales of tough measures in the Pre-Budget Report."
Helen Dickinson, Head of Retail, KPMG, added: "Although the rest of the country has shown a relatively slow build up to early Christmas trade in November, London has bucked this trend. The weakness of the pound has certainly continued to attract overseas visitors who were out in the capital's department stores in force. A number of these stores have also stepped up their promotional activity to drive footfall and while the wet weather dampened shoppers’ enthusiasm to hit the local high streets in some parts of the country in search of early Christmas presents, London's accessibility and choice continued to make it a destination."
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