Early clearance sales and heavy discounting managed to attract a high number of people to London just before Christmas, but shoppers were still reluctant to spend, according to market watcher KPMG.
The firm's London Retail Sales Monitor for December 2008 has revealed retail sales in the capital were 0.7 per cent lower than last year, on a like-for-like basis, but stronger than the overall 3.3 per cent decline in the rest of the UK.
Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said: “In the context of today’s tough conditions, these are weak figures that could have been worse. This is London retail’s poorest December since 2004 but beats the rest of the UK.
“Some retailers did have strong individual days just before Christmas but overall those didn’t compensate for the dismal weeks before that.”
Robertson added: “City job losses are serious and generating a lot of publicity but, generally, London customers are slightly less pessimistic than those in other parts of the country.”
The currently strong Euro boosted Eurozone visitors, who took advantage of the heavy discounts available.
Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, said: “The weaker pound, which is making the UK very attractive for overseas shoppers, has helped keep the capital's December sales performance above that of the UK as a whole, where like-for-like sales fell by 3.3 per cent.
“However, a fall for central London of 0.7 per cent is nothing to shout about and does not bode well for 2009, given the economic outlook and London's position as a major financial centre.”
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