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Snowfall Impacts London Retailers

Local officials and transport authorities warned people to remain at home and take extra care if they needed to travel.

LONDON — Britain’s long-awaited snowstorm arrived on Friday — disrupting airports, roads, and retail. Although much of London’s snow melted the minute it hit the ground, local officials and transport authorities warned people to remain at home and take extra care if they needed to travel.

“Snow definitely does have an impact on shopper numbers,” said Mandy Murphy, a spokeswoman for the British Retail Consortium. “December 2010 is a real case in point, as the unusually early and prolonged wintry weather kept many shoppers away and put sales on ice for much of the month. “Retailers are already facing challenging times due to relentlessly tough times in the economy, so anything that acts as a further deterrent to shoppers doesn’t help matters. However, it’s important to remember that January isn’t generally a key month for sales, and the difficult weather conditions are likely to be short-lived.”

At least 2.5 inches of snow was expected to fall on London on Friday — and much of it turned to slush during the day – with much higher snowfall expected across much of the rest of the country over the weekend.

But it’s not all bad news: At John Lewis, sales of private label women’s casual padded jackets are up 118 percent year-on-year and long coats are up 367 percent year-on-year.

Ed Burstell, managing director of Liberty, said store sales on Friday were flat compared with last year. “Not bad in a town where they shut the trains down ‘in anticipation’ of snow!'” he said.

Some Londoners actually embraced the snow storm: “I’m a romantic, I love shopping in the snow,” said Cemo Imamzade, 28, a press officer. “I find it calming. Plus, I know less people will be out and about so the shops will be less crowded. You can’t rush in the snow, everything slows down.”