Central London retail sales up

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The Independent Online

Central London retail sales rose in January, ending four straight months of declines, but an industry group warned the pick-up did not signal a return of consumer confidence.

Sales were 6.5 per cent up on a year earlier in the capital compared with a 1.1 per cent increase for the whole of the UK, the British Retail Consortium said.

Footfall was slightly down on December and up on a year ago, compared with a year-on-year total decline for the country.

The figures were boosted by shoppers lured by heavy discounts at clearance sales and also by overseas visitors taking advantage of sterling’s weakness and large discounts made by London’s battered retail sector.

“After the clearance sales, underlying weak consumer confidence and uncertain prospects for personal finances meant UK shoppers were still reluctant to spend,” Joscelyne Hynard, analyst at the BRC, said.

Visitors from the eurozone rose most markedly and the strength of the dollar also attracted US visitors. There were also more Chinese shoppers in stores.

Buyers took advantage of clearance bargains, especially for large homewares and one-off items of clothing and footwear.

But the results were skewed by a particularly busy first week of the new year that tailed off as the month wore on and the deep discounts hit margins.