Retail sales in central London were 4.2% higher on a like-for-like basis last month over a year ago, when sales had fallen 2.6%.
According to the BRC-KPMG London Retail Sales Monitor, retail footfall in October was just higher than a year ago. Unseasonably mild weather, against the cold, snowy October last year, plus half-term and Halloween gave shoppers a reason to come out.
Food sales growth weakened a little further, affected by lower food inflation. Homewares benefited from better consumer confidence but the gains were against a weak October last year which was discount driven. Clothing and footwear struggled in the mild weather.
Stephen Robertson, director general, BRC, said: “These are the first solid signs that it will be a better retail Christmas than 2008. London sales were well up on the dismal performance of a year ago and outperformed the rest of the UK, though not to quite the same extent as in recent months.
“Consumer confidence in the capital was stronger than the rest of the country, which together with housing market stability, helped homewares sales. But milder weather than last October meant customers delayed spending on winter clothing and footwear ranges.
“The weak pound continued to attract European visitors. There was also a boost from Chinese tourists visiting London as part of their ‘Golden Week’ – when several of their public holidays fall around the same time.”
KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson said: “October’s like-for-like sales growth of 4.2% is encouraging in the lead-up to Christmas, and compared with the 2.6% fall in like-for-like sales last October, shows that for at least some of the capital’s consumers, confidence is on the up. The next few weeks will be crucial for retailers but these latest figures should hopefully be cause for greater optimism.”