Credit crunch, you say? Bah, we're having none of it. Shops in the West End have punched above their weight so far this year: according to a new report from the British Retail Consortium, retail sales in London grew 10.5% in February, up from 3.8% in January, while footfall on the city's major shopping streets recorded a 4.3% year on year rise for March. All this in a climate where the national market is looking particularly glum - a 1.6% drop in sales was announced last week.
So what's the story? Chalk it up to the fondness that minted Russian and Middle Eastern visitors have for our fair shopping arcades and liveried department stores. A "healthy appetite for luxury purchases" by these most-welcome tourists is helping us buck the trend for belt-tightening. Additionally, online sales have remained healthy, with booze sales looking particularly good, although the figures were compiled before Alistair Darling's tax hikes (boo, hiss) so may not prove long lasting.
Meanwhile, there has been a noted increase in people spending with cash as opposed to card, as folk try and shun that attractive but oh-so troublesome bit of plastic in favour of keeping a tight reign over their finances. And with an entirely new cornucopia of coinage set to be rolled out this summer, what better time for Londoners to rediscover the comforting jingle jangle of a pocketful of small change?
Image of Oxford Street courtesy of E01's Flickrstream