London shops get wedding fever boost

Elizabeth Fournier
TRADING at London’s West End shops during April outperformed both last year’s figures and the rest of the country, as the extended bank holidays and Royal Wedding celebrations boosted footfall at the capital’s retailers.

Sales at 600 stores on Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street rose 7.6 per cent year on year, according to the latest report from by the New West End Company, compared to a UK-wide increase of 5.2 per cent.

Footfall in London also outstripped the rest of the country, climbing 8.6 per cent year-on-year versus a national average of - 0.8 per cent.

Sales were driven by tourists who flocked to London over the Easter and Royal Wedding long weekends, with particularly strong sales in confectionary and beauty, and in seasonal Royal Wedding memorabilia.

“The unusual trading environment in April worked to retailers’ advantage, with long weekends, extra bank holidays and the Royal Wedding all adding to the buoyancy of trading,” said Jace Tyrrell of the New West End Company.

But figures published by the Ernst & Young ITEM club predict a gloomier outlook for the UK retail sector, with consumer spending set to stay below pre-recession levels until at least 2013.

The ITEM Club expects consumer spending to grow by an average of just two per cent each year until 2020, compared to 3.3 per cent in the decade prior to the recession.

But the outlook is slightly better for London, where spending is forecast to increase 1.5 per cent this year and 1.7 per cent in 2012, compared to growth of just 0.3 per cent and 0.9 per cent in the North East.

● Sales were up 7.6 per cent compared to a UK-wide average of 5.2 per cent

● Spending by international shoppers rose 122 per cent year-on-year, with an average spend of £596 compared to the UK figure of £120.