London retail sales increased 3.6% on a like-for-like basis in April, with growth hit by the early timing of Easter and the volcanic ash cloud, according to the British Retail Consortium-KPMG London Retail Sales Monitor.
Last month London retail like-for-likes climbed 9.9%. However, London sales are still outperforming the national average. In April UK retail like-for-likes declined 2.3%
London’s retail footfall last month fell, hit by the timing of Easter and the volcanic ash cloud, which prevented tourists from getting to the capital.
In April last year London like-for-likes rose 5.1%, when all of the Easter period fell in April.
In the three months to the end of April 2010, like-for-like London sales increased 8.1%
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “This is nowhere near as bad as it looks. This looks like a dramatic slowdown in growth compared with March but it was mainly down to Easter and ash.
“This year’s earlier Easter meant much of the spending resulting from it fell into March, undermining April’s figures. The lengthy flight ban did disproportionate damage to London retail because the capital relies more on shopping by overseas visitors. People trapped here were often running short of money and spent less than a fresh influx would have done.
“Consumer confidence is uncertain. Customers are worried about jobs, the economy and prospects for their own finances but fundamentally they are happier to spend than a year ago. Ash and Easter are temporary effects. May’s growth is likely to bounce back but emerging news about Government tax plans will influence how much.”
Despite the decline in tourist numbers, sterling’s weakness “continued to attract overseas visitors”, especially from Europe, China and the Middle East.
New West End Company figures showed that retail sales in the West End – that includes retailers in Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street – dipped 0.1% in April.