West End retailers are positive about trading going into the final few weeks before Christmas after sales increased in the first week of December.
Footfall increased by three per cent during the week beginning November 28 on the previous week’s figures, representing a rise of one per cent on last year’s count, according to the New West End Company. Retailers believe falling temperatures stimulating winter clothing sales and shoppers spending their November pay packets boosted sales in London’s main shopping district.
However, sales fell by 2.6 per cent year-on-year in November, said the New West End Company, which represents 600 fashion-orientated brands on Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street. The West End’s falling sales last month are in line with UK figures, with non-food sales dropping 2.1 per cent compared to last year. November’s figures were hit by unseasonably warm weather delaying the sales of winter stock such as knits, coats and boats, while works to Crossrail along Oxford Street also hit footfall.
New West End Company chief executive Richard Dickinson said: “In November, which saw above-average temperatures hindering winter fashion sales and impact from major roadworks, it is not surprising that sales took a dip in the West End but December is already looking brighter. We are working closely with the authorities to ensure those travelling into the West End have the best possible shopping experience and can move around easily. We have heard encouraging reports from retailers that sales are gaining momentum.”
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Retailers are hopeful the seventh annual pedestrian-friendly American Express Shop West End VIP Weekend will help sales, predicting that £150m will go through the tills during the busiest shopping weekend of the year. Oxford Street and Regent Street will be closed to traffic on both Saturday and Sunday. The New West End Company worked with Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police, Westminster Council and 600 retailers to put on the traffic-free event.
John Lewis Oxford Street operations manager Paul Marsden said: “We expect to see continued strong sales growth this week as there is no escaping that Christmas is around the corner. As the weather becomes cooler, we predict fashion, beauty and gifting will perform well, along with home as customers continue to invest in making improvements to their houses in preparation for visits from friends and family.”