Boost for shops in capital's West End

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The Independent Online

Retailers in in central London enjoyed bumper trade in July, driven by Middle Eastern shoppers splashing the cash ahead of an earlier Ramadan this year.

Like-for-like sales on non-food products surged by 9.6 per cent last month, according to retail trackers at Springboard. However, the view of a two-tier retail economy was reinforced by lacklustre sales growth of just 0.5 per cent across the rest of the UK in July, found the British Retail Consortium.

Central London continued to benefit from a broad mix of international shoppers in July. The New West End Company (NWEC), which represents retailers on Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street, singled out Middle Eastern shoppers, particularly those from UAE and Saudi Arabia.

A spokesman said: "With Ramadan arriving ten days earlier this year, our July sales figures have been jacked up by international shoppers. This has compensated for a sluggish domestic market due to fears over VAT and low consumer confidence."

The data chimes with a 14.4 per cent increase in retail sales in central London in June, according to the BRC and the accountancy firm KPMG.