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London retail boost fuelled by Easter lift

RETAILERS in central London saw an almost ten per cent rise in sales last month – fuelled by a booming Easter.

The figures, based on a comparison with March last year, showed that the weak pound and an increase in Chinese visitors over the holiday helped to keep tills ringing, with a 9.9 per cent increase.

Across the UK the figure was up only an average of 4.4 per cent, according to the figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Between January and March sales were up in central London by 7.7 per cent compared with just 2.1 per cent throughout the UK.

BRC director general Stephen Roberston said: “This year’s earlier Easter boosted food sales in particular, with the first half of the Bank Holiday weekend reflected in these March results.

“The Easter holiday encouraged more British families to come to London and combined with the weak pound attracted visitors from western Europe and China in particular.”

Meanwhile in the West End the sales rise was 13.5 per cent, with domestic shoppers also hitting the stores in force, according to separate data from the New West End Company. The sales hike came as women’s fashions and gift buying rose, with more than two million shoppers hitting Oxford Street, Bond Street, Regent Street and Tottenham Court Road over the Easter weekend.

Spokesman Jace Tyrrell said: “Fashions and food gifts saw an uplift. Although very encouraging, these figures are set against a low base in 2009.”

FAST FACTS |
● Central London sales rose by 9.9 per cent in March compared to the same month last year

● Sales across the rest of the UK were up on average 4.4 per cent

● There was a 13.5 per cent West End lift