Central London retail sales in February were 9.9% higher on a like-for-like basis than a year ago according to British Retail Consortium figures, suggesting that low January sales were a blip caused by the snowy weather.
Last year, February like-for-like sales in central London rose 5.8%, compared to this year’s 9.9%. In this year’s snow-hit January, growth was only 3.4%.
British Retail Consortium senior analyst Joscelyne Hynard said that footfall in central London last month was 3.3% lower than in February 2009 when the weather was milder. However, those who did brave out in this February’s cold and wet weather to get to the shops often spent more.
Food sales slowed in February, after shoppers had stocked up during January’s snow. Non-food recovered as people got out to the shops again, having concentrated on essentials in January’s snow. Homewares picked up and clothing and footwear benefited from the cold wet weather and extended discounts.
Consumer confidence in London remained above that in the rest of the UK, according to the GfK NOP measure.
British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said: “London consumers are less worried about their own situations and the wider economy than they were last year and than people in other parts of the country.”
KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson said that February 2009 was impacted by the snowy weather in the first week, but there were no such challenges last month.
She added: “The weakness of the pound continues to attract overseas visitors and levels of promotional activity remain high, both helping to drive London’s outperformance of the rest of the UK.”
London sales were stronger than those in the UK as whole, where like-for-like sales rose 2.2% year-on-year, against a 1.8% fall in February 2009.