Retailers in London’s West End are bullish about Christmas this year, with sales in the area expected to grow by 5-8% in December compared to last year.
Retailers expect their “strongest Christmas in years”, according to research from the New West End Company.
The research also predicted that visitor numbers are set to rise by 5% in December compared to 2013, with 40 million people expected to spend approximately £1bn in the West End over the six-week Christmas trading period.
New West End Company chief executive Richard Dickinson said that sales will be up for Christmas because there is “greater confidence in the economy”. He added: “We are coming back to pre-recession levels of growth.”
The report found that while tourism in the area continues to grow, forecast to be up by 5% over the year, retailers highlighted that spend from domestic shoppers was growing.
Selfridges operations director Sue West said it is seeing “far stronger local trade”, adding: “We’re expecting a very strong Christmas off the back of that.”
Aurum chief executive Brian Duffy also highlighted the strength of the UK consumer. “The UK customer is spending, is a lot more confident.”
West said that Black Friday “will truly kickstart Christmas”, then December 22 and 23 “will be the big days for the high streets, the big cash days”.
John Lewis Oxford Street branch head Karen Lord said the store may see a “dampening off” after Black Friday but then “that final last week is really big”.
West did say though that Boxing Day Sales will still surpass Black Friday. She said “that’s where the volumes in reductions will sit”.
West said that Selfridges had had a “very poor international year” following comparisons with the Olympics year and amid significant overseas turmoil. She said it had been “tough” with Russia, adding that Russians coming to the UK had “almost shut down”.
Also, the strength of the pound has meant that luxury products have been up to 20% more expensive than Paris, she added.