London’s West End predicts £1.2bn to be spent this Christmas
Retail sales in London’s West End are forecast to hit £1.2 billion in the run-up to Christmas, which is a third more than at the same time last year.
However, the figures from New West End Company, which represents businesses in Bond Street, Oxford Street, Regent Street and Mayfair, show that this is less than half of 2019’s pre-pandemic levels.
The news comes as trading rates have been found to be down 52% despite footfall rising to 80% of pre-pandemic levels last week.
The latest footfall figure is the highest the district has experienced since the first lockdown and suggests that many people are starting their Christmas shopping early this year.
Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of New West End Company, said: “The long-term recovery of the West End is well on its way this winter, but we can all play a part in speeding up that return by making time to shop on our high streets, grabbing a bite to eat at our hard-hit restaurants and catching a show. One in ten Londoners work in the West End, and it has been heartening to see UK shoppers filling the district with optimism once again and supporting our colleagues, but that wealth of choice and world-renowned retail depends on encouraging high spending overseas tourists to return.”
New West End Company is asking the Government to provide more support to help entice overseas shoppers, diners and holidaymakers back to UK shores. This includes a call for the simplification of the UK’s visitor visa system, which the company argues has fallen behind that offered by competing destinations such as Paris and Milan
It is also asking that West End businesses are given the opportunity to match the needs of shoppers on weekend city breaks, especially those from overseas who are often disappointed that stores close at 6pm on Sunday.
Tyrrell added: “There are so many simple ways to support London businesses that the Government is overlooking, or simply ignoring. Reintroducing tax-free shopping and extending Sunday trading hours will bring huge amounts of revenue and, when coupled with simplified visa terms, will mean that London and the country can reap the rewards of both international and domestic tourists on our high streets. But, if we are to avoid more iconic brands closing their doors following a hard winter, we must act quickly before it is too late.”
The district is planning a range of festive celebrations to attract shoppers throughout the season.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: ““The West End at Christmas is a fabulous experience, with world-class shopping, bars and restaurants as well as the dazzling festive lights and displays. So I encourage Londoners and visitors from around the country to come and enjoy everything London has to offer as you get ready for Christmas.”
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