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The number of shoppers out on London’s high streets in the run-up to Christmas was up year-on-year, according to retailers.

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Footfall in December rose by 3.1 per cent, bucking the general national trend.

The increase also contrasted with hard hit parts of the UK, including Wales, with an 11.5 per cent drop, and the East of the England, which saw football drop by 7.1 per cent.

Helen Dickinson, director of the British Retail Consortium, said high streets had a “particular appeal” over Christmas.

She said: “It wasn’t a bumper Christmas but it wasn’t a disaster either. Our December retail sales figures showed very modest sales growth for the market as a whole.

“At minus 3.3 per cent, high streets suffered the biggest drop-off (nationally) in shopper numbers. Generally, weak spending power is keeping people away and compounding long-standing difficulties in many of our town centres. This month’s retail failures confirm the challenges are far from over.

“The government should help erase the pain with a business rates freeze in April. Another steep rise can only lead to fewer jobs, less investment and more troubled high streets.”

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