London

Christmas shopping: London West End retail takings fall

Christmas shoppers on Oxford Street in central London
Image caption About a million shoppers came to the West End on Saturday, with 600,000 more expected on Sunday

Shoppers spent an estimated 10% less than last year on the first day of a traffic-free weekend in central London, figures have suggested.

Takings on Oxford Street and Regent Street on Saturday were thought to have totalled £180m, said the New West End Company, which represents retailers.

This compared with £200m of revenue on the same day in 2010.

About a million people travelled to the area on Saturday, while another 600,000 were expected on Sunday, it added.

Roads were shut to vehicles during trading hours on each day, as part of an attempt to encourage people to head into the West End for their Christmas presents.

'Real shoppers' market'

It is the seventh year in which the closures have taken place, with this weekend considered the busiest of the year for purchases.

Many businesses have been cutting prices heavily to try to boost sales at a time of continued economic uncertainty.

"It's a real shoppers' market out there with stores offering discounts of up to 50%, and the tactic is working, with £20m going through the tills in the first three hours of Saturday's trading," said Richard Dickinson, the chief executive of the New West End Company.

The department store Selfridges said there were queues for its opening on Sunday, with headphones, tablet computers, e-readers and chocolates among its most popular products.

All of its daily walk-in tickets to Santa's grotto were sold within seven minutes, it said.

Rival retailer John Lewis said its sales were 2% higher week-on-week.

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