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Weakest London sales growth this year

Retail sales in central London in May were 1.6% higher, on a like-for-like basis, than a year ago, when sales were up 8.5%, driven by much warmer weather the BRC/KPMG London retail sales monitor reveals.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Weakest London sales growth this year

Retail footfall in May fell back just below its year-earlier level, as the weather was not as sunny as May 2008. The favourable exchange rate continued to attract overseas visitors, especially those from Western Europe, but touris
ts were more cautious and tended to spend less. Food sales slowed after a strong Easter boost in April. Clothing, footwear and outdoor living continued to sell on sunny days but less strongly than last May. Beauty products held up but homewares and furniture sales remained difficult.

Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: “It's no surprise this May's sales growth was weaker than last year's, which greatly benefited from the dramatic improvement in the weather. Despite this, London retailers outperformed the rest of the UK by a wide margin. And consumer confidence held up better in the capital than other parts of the UK.

“The sunny days boosted sales of clothing, footwear and outdoor living, but not as strongly as compared to last May - which was sunnier. The favourable exchange rate continued to attract overseas visitors to London, though Western European tourists tended to be more cautious about their spending.”

Helen Dickinson, Head of Retail, KPMG, added “These figures may look disappointing after the strong results of the first four months of the year, but central London does continue to outperform the rest of the UK. Stronger sales last year - May was one of the strongest months of 2008 - also impacted this month's results. We might have expected better figures as, while there are consumers struggling financially due to actual, or the prospect of, job losses, there are UK consumers with greater disposable incomes and a continuation of increased overseas visitors to the capital. Sales volatility appears to be the order of the day.”

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