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London shoppers in high street stay-away

Annual growth in London's retail sales suffered during April, the latest figures have suggested.A new survey says that last month shoppers spent 4.5 per cent more in central London compared to a year earlier.But the London Retail Consortium (LRC), which conducted the research, notes that in 2006 April's retail figures in the capital were up 11.9 per cent on the corresponding month a year previously.Last month's dip comes about despite warm sunny weather in the south-east of England, with the LRC attributing the drop in footfall to Easter falling in March in 2005 but April last year."This is a reasonable result bearing in mind the challenging comparatives with April 2006," said the trade association's director Kevin Hawkins."The declining rate of sales growth is in line with the UK trend but it should be noted that the increase of 4.5 per cent is the lowest reported figure since 2005. This suggests that the squeeze on household spending is getting tighter, which the recent hike in interest rates will aggravate."

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