London retail sales ahead of rest of UK

RETAIL sales in central London were up 5.4 per cent in April, compared with the previous year &ndash; beating the 4.6 per cent increase in the UK as a whole &ndash; according to data released by the British Retail Consortium today.<br /><br />&ldquo;April was a good month for retail, with Easter falling in the month and summery weather proving a jump in clothing sales,&rdquo; said BRC director general Stephen Robertson.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;d love to join in the &lsquo;green shoots&rsquo; chorus that the worst is over, but unemployment is still 2.2m and it is predicted to grow to 3m, so I&rsquo;m very cautious that retailers will still face some difficulty,&rdquo; he added.<br /><br />As with the previous month, sterling&rsquo;s weakness attracted shoppers from Western Europe. But retail body New West End Company (NWEC) said the weak pound also encouraged UK consumers to head to the west end, instead of taking an overseas Easter break.<br /><br />According to NWEC figures, London&rsquo;s west end footflow increased 3.1 per cent year-on-year &ndash; outperforming the rest of the country.<br /><br />The data comes, after the Office of National Statistics (ONS) last week admitted it had heavily overstated the volume of retail sales over the past two years by 56 per cent.<br /><br />The ONS previously said that between August 2007 and March 2009 retail sales volume grew 3.6 per cent. It now says the real rise in sales volumes was only 2.3 per cent.<br /><br />It now plans to revise the way it calculates its Retail Sales Index figure.