West End Christmas sales up on last year, exceeding rest of UK

 
Julian Harris
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WEST end shops recorded a 7.6 per cent rise in November sales compared to last year, it was announced today.

Promotions such as the traffic free VIP Day (“Very Important Pedestrians”) boosted sales, according to retail trackers Springboard.

The surge was considerably above the relatively flat 0.7 per cent increases in the rest of the country, they said.

Yet John Lewis continues to perform well across the UK, drawing in a record £121m in the week to Saturday.

The department store’s sales for the week were up 16.7 per cent on the previous week, and 10 per cent on the same time last year.

The increase reflects a pick up in sales after the winter freeze thawed, resulting in more people heading to the shops.

Yet a return of cold weather is forecast for the coming week, causing concern among retailers, said Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight.

“With Christmas falling on a Saturday, next weekend’s trading is going to be of major importance to retailers,” he said.

Snow and ice not only deter people from the shops, but also cause problems for supply chains.

Retailers are engaged in a battle against time, hoping to convince consumers to splash out on big ticket items before VAT increases to 20 per cent on 4 January.

Home improvement store B&Q is launching its “January” sale on 17 December, with other sales expected to begin on or before Christmas day.

And consumers are increasingly turning to the internet to do their shopping.

John Lewis recorded a huge 45 per cent increase in online sales last week, compared to the previous year.