Food and drink sales across the capital increased 4% in June compared to the previous year, again highlighting the divide between London and the rest of the country, according to a new report. The report by the New West End Company, which represents 600 outlets in central London, found that retail sales in the capital increased 11% in June compared to 2010, the strongest monthly growth for over a year. It said that the increase in sales in the capital was in contrast to a 0.6% drop in sales throughout the rest of the country. The group said that this gap could grow further with an extra 600,000 tourists forecast to visit London this summer, spending approximately £30m in hotels, restaurants and bars. Jace Tyrrell of the New West End Company said: "The summer months are incredibly important for West End retail as shopper spending reaches a midyear peak around holiday season." Karen Baines of the Heart of London Business Alliance, which compiled the figures for the study, said: "Already in July we saw our strongest weekend visitor numbers of 2011, and anticipate that the tourist peak this month will ensure July is a strong month for the night-time economy of the West End."

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