London retail sales in November were the best since October 2006, raising hopes for a good Christmas period.
Retail sales in central London in November were 13.3% higher on a like-for-like basis than a year ago, when sales had fallen 0.4%, as the City was in financial turmoil.
Retail footfall in November rose further above its year-earlier level to show the best growth since June. Unseasonably mild weather, together with several special sales events and widespread discounts, attracted shoppers to the capital.
Food sales held up well and in-store restaurants benefitted from the wet weather. Shoppers took advantage of discounts, giving gains for homewares, furniture, clothing and footwear and fashion accessories. Beauty products also did well.
Sterling’s weakness, although less marked than last year, continued to attract overseas visitors, especially from western Europe.
Stephen Robertson, BRC director general, said: “These are great figures - the best sales growth for three years. Remember that this strong growth is compared with sales falls a year ago and many retailers are using promotional events and price cuts to get customers spending but these figures show London retailers have had a very encouraging start to Christmas with even big ticket items doing well.”
Helen Dickinson, head of retail, at KPMG, said: “Although the rest of the country has shown a relatively slow build up to early Christmas trade in November, London has bucked this trend. The weakness of the pound has certainly continued to attract overseas visitors who were out in the capital’s department stores in force. A number of these stores have also stepped up their promotional activity to drive footfall and while the wet weather dampened shoppers’ enthusiasm to hit the local high streets in some parts of the country in search of early Christmas presents, London’s accessibility and choice continued to make it a destination.”
Footfall was 3.6% higher in November than the same month last year, according to Synovate.