But February’s sales figures will surprise even the most ardent fan of the capital for how much London has outstripped the national average.
An increase of 5.9 per cent like for like when nationally the figure fell by 1.8 per cent is remarkable, particularly given the snow which decimated the first week of the month.
The week before last an article called me to Chelsea’s King’s Road to have a wander around the famous street on a sunny afternoon and photograph the many boutique stores and high-end fashion chains that trade there.
For a street that many mooted as a potential victim of Westfield London, things were notably buzzing on King’s Road on this particular Friday afternoon.
True, the further you walk away from Sloane Square ,the less well the retail is faring, but on the whole it is hardly bereft of top shops.
For anyone looking to paint a bleak picture of London’s prospects it is important to remember quite how strong and internationally renowned the shopping offer is on King’s Road and other major retail hubs.
In many such cases there is quantity and quality in high measures and the pull for tourists is clearly irresistible with London offering such amazing value to overseas visitors.
Six months on from Westfield London’s opening the great swathes of empty stores across the West of London that many feared are yet to show themselves.
The simple equation that a giant new shopping mall opening on the outskirts of a city will have a negative impact on the centre might work in most cases. But not in London.
The 5.9 per cent sales growth in February is proof that, among other things, tourists see West End shopping trip as a vital part of their visit to the capital.
Anybody commenting on the capital will underestimate at their peril the importance of things like tourism to retail. London’s West End is clearly going to take more than a downturn, or a new shopping centre, to rattle it.