London retail sales growth drops in April

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Easter and volcanic ash cause decline in retail growth on 2009.

Growth of retail sales in central London slowed in April, growing only 3.6 percent on the previous year, compared to 5.1 percent in April 2009.

The results were published in the London Retail Sales Monitor compiled by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG.

The drop in growth was attributed to the timing of Easter, which fell in early April this year, resulting in most shopping being carried out in March. This is in contrast to the previous year when Easter was on April 12, leading to a significant growth on the March Easter of 2008.

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The volcanic ash was partly blamed for the reduced footfall, as it prevented tourists from reaching the capital and pre-election jitters were also thought to dampen consumer demand. Non-food sales were also affected by the drop in sales growth.

BRC director-general Stephen Robertson said: “Consumer confidence is uncertain. Customers are worried about jobs, the economy and prospects for their own finances, but fundamentally they are happier to spend than a year ago. Ash and Easter are temporary effects. May’s growth is likely to bounce back but emerging news about Government tax plans will influence how much.”

On a positive note, the sterling’s weakness has continued to attract overseas visitors to the shopping capital, particularly from Western Europe, China and the Middle East.

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