London’s West End warns of ravaging impact of lockdown
The organisation representing retailers across London’s West End shopping district has warned that the new Covid-19 lockdown will have a ravaging impact on retailers who are now braced to lose the majority of their Christmas sales.
The warning follows the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday that non-essential shops across the UK will be required to close for four weeks from 5 November as part of efforts to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed by the pandemic.
Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of New West End Company, said: “A circuit-breaker lockdown of non-essential travel and retail is a true nightmare before Christmas for West End retailers. It is a relief that the government is to match restrictions with support for British business, but this must match that provided in March. The West End employs one in 10 Londoners, and the run up to Christmas is shaping up to deliver some of the most difficult trading periods we’ve ever experienced.”
The organisation has also released its spending and footfall forecasts for the Christmas period. It estimates that under the new restrictions, high street sales will rise by just £500 million across the district before Christmas. Current trading rates are down by 64% on last year when during the same period retailers benefited from £2.5 billion pounds worth of sales.
The organisation said just nine million visitors are expected to visit the district after lockdown lifts, compared to the usual 42 million that shop in the West End at Christmas.
In addition to emergency support provided to cover lost wages, New West End Company is also calling on the government to maintain essential support measures such as continued business rates relief after April next year.
Tyrrell added: “Retailers and the public need to be reassured that there is light at the end of the tunnel, as continued uncertainty and stop start measures are undermining confidence and worsening an already catastrophic situation.”
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