High interest rate blamed
Central London retail sales for April reveal a 4.5 per cent growth in like-for-like business, compared with the previous year. This was the lowest reported monthly increase since 2005. The London Retail Consortium pointed out that consumer spending is suffering from an ongoing squeeze, compounded by last week's interest rate rise.

Footfall for April was 1.1 per cent lower than the previous year, according to SPSL, giving further evidence of retail slowdown.

British Retail Consortium director-general Kevin Hawkins said: 'This is a reasonable result, bearing in mind the challenging comparatives with April last year. The declining rate of sales growth is in line with the UK trend, but it should be noted that the increase of 4.5 per cent is the lowest reported figure since 2005. This suggests that the squeeze on household spending is getting tighter, which the recent hike in interest rates will aggravate.'

Tourist shopper numbers were up on a year ago, led by Western European and Russian visitors, but US tourists remain less numerous.

The warm, sunny weather - especially over the Easter weekend - helped sales of clothing and footwear, barbecue foods, DIY and gardening. However, homewares and indoor goods suffered.