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Christmas retail outlook positive

  • November 4, 2019
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Retail sales in central London in October were 4.2% higher on a like-for-like basis than a year ago, when sales had fallen 2.6%, as financial turmoil hit consumer confidence – especially in the City. Retail footfall in October was just higher than a year ago. Unseasonably mild weather – especially against the cold and at times, snowy October last year – plus half-term and Halloween gave people reasons to go out.

Sterling’s weakness against the euro continued to attract western Europeans. Middle Eastern visitors were also good customers for many, though less numerous than in September.Food sales growth weakened a little further, affected by lower food inflation. Homewares benefited from better consumer confidence and housing market news but the gains were against a weak October 2008 and often discount-driven. Clothing and footwear struggled in the mild weather.

Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: “These are the first solid signs that it will be a better retail Christmas than 2008. London sales were well up on the dismal performance of a year ago and outperformed the rest of the UK, though not to quite the same extent as in recent months.“Consumer confidence in the capital was stronger than the rest of the country, which together with housing market stability, helped homeware sales. But milder weather than last October meant customers delayed spending on winter clothing and footwear ranges. “The weak pound continued to attract European visitors. There was also a boost from Chinese tourists visiting London as part of their ‘Golden Week’ – when several of their public holidays fall around the same time.”

Helen Dickinson, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: “October’s like-for-like sales growth of 4.2% is encouraging in the lead-up to Christmas, and compared with the 2.6% fall in like-for-like sales last October, shows that for at least some of the capital’s consumers, confidence is on the up. The next few weeks will be crucial for retailers but these latest figures should hopefully be cause for greater optimism.”

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