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London still 'quiet' as BRC reports July rise
07.08.12 | Lisa Campbell
General retail sales values were up 0.1% like-for-like in July but shops in central London continue to report a slow August as people avoid the area during the Olympics.
Waterstones reported that “central London is generally quiet” and independents like Vivian Archer’s Newham Bookshop in East London nearby to the Olympic park said her August was so far proving “no worse than every quiet August.” The British Retail Consortium today reported that retail sales value were up 0.1% like-for-like in comparison to July last year and total sales were up 0.2%. Online orders or non-food items, including mail and phone orders saw a far stronger rise in growth, up 15.6% against growth of 9.6% last year, which the BRC said “marks the strongest growth this year.”
The BRC also noted that “book sales were up for the first time since January 2011 as the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon continued to drive sales.” However, the figures still caused KMPG’s head of retail for the BRC, Helen Dickinson, to predict it was “doubtful” that July’s “lacklustre” month would be greatly changed by the Olympics.
She said: “Early expectations that the Olympics will raise retailers’ fortunes look to be wide of the mark. Central London’s retailers are already being hit hard by shoppers actively avoiding the capital. It’s likely that any blip of benefit the Games bring will be short lived.”
Some retailers bent on using the Olympics as a sales opportunity used the UK’s medal success as a way to attract more customers into their shop. Simon Key at The Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green, North London, said his shop “took twice as much as we did this time last year” when he held a 3 for 2 sale last Saturday (4th August) “to celebrate all the fun of the Olympics.” However Key agreed that in general the Games were not boosting book sales. “This weekend is normally the worst for sales over summer because people are usually away the first weekend in August," he said. "Team GB is doing really well and everyone is feeling happy and that usually has a positive impact on retailing, but in general I would say the Olympics is not having too much of an effect on us either way.”
A Waterstones spokesperson said shops had “put in some great displays” front
of store and in the sports sections, with customers “reacting very well to those - particularly good sales all things cycling.” The spokesperson added: “As widely reported, central London is generally quiet for retailers but we are generally seeing some nice sales on the London books - The Londoners by Craig Taylor (Granta Books) is doing well - and especially for children.”