Retail sales in central London in November were 0.4% lower than a year earlier, on a like-for-like basis, stronger than the 2.6% decline in the UK as whole. Retail footfall in November was weaker than in the past few months but still just higher than a year ago, in contrast to the year-on-year decline in the UK as a whole.
The many discount days and special events attracted people into the capital, but did not always tempt price-conscious shoppers to spend. Substantial job losses in the City and fears of more to come hit consumer confidence hard.
Despite further extensive discounting, homewares, clothing and footwear were difficult.
Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: “The economic crisis is hitting confidence in London particularly hard. But the capital’s retailers are responding with high-profile discount days and promotions on a scale I’ve never seen before at this time of year. ” Customers were always likely to leave it late, but there is still time for a pre-Christmas revival. London retailers in particular will be helped as the weaker pound makes the UK very attractive for overseas shoppers. VAT and interest rate cuts will also help.”
Helen Dickinson, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: “The trend of a fall in sales in central London, which was seen for the first time in nearly three years in September, has continued for the third month in a row with a drop of 0.4% percent in like-for-like sales. The fall is smaller than that of the UK. High levels of promotional activity and a weak pound encouraging overseas tourists remain the key drivers behind keeping consumers in the capital shopping.”