Sadiq Khan urges shoppers to return to London’s West End
New figures have shown that footfall in London’s West End is still 63% down on the same time last year despite retail lockdown restrictions easing eight weeks ago.
The data from New West End Company, which represents 600 businesses across Oxford Street, Bond Street, Regent Street and Mayfair, shows that footfall has been rising slowly in the district since non-essential stores reopened on 15 June but has now plateaued at less than half of the usual levels. Research carried out on behalf of New West End Company further reveals that customers still lack confidence in visiting central London.
The study found that while 43% of consumers polled said they were confident in visiting retail stores in the area, only 23% said they felt comfortable about the prospect of using public transport. In addition, some 74% of UK consumers surveyed claimed they would be unlikely to visit Central London in the next month.
New West End Company said the findings suggest that a lack of confidence about using public transport is holding back the district’s recovery.
Yesterday, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Deputy Mayor Rajesh Agrawal met with representatives from West End retailers Selfridges, Hackett, Uniqlo, Arcadia and Schuh to hear how Covid-19 has impacted the capital’s retail sector.
Following the meeting, Khan said: “For decades central London has been the economic engine of the UK, a cultural powerhouse, and a gateway for global tourism to the UK. But it now faces a real existential threat from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Until we have an operational vaccine in place social distancing will have to continue to protect people’s health, and with employers planning to continue home-working well into next year, the numbers of people visiting the West End will be reduced for many months ahead.
“As Mayor I’m doing all within my powers to help. This includes providing loans and funding directly to small businesses and ensuring TfL’s unprecedented range of safety and hygiene measures mean more passengers are now able to travel on London public’s transport network.”
With one in ten Londoners employed in the West End, New West End Company said the district could face job losses of 50,000 and a loss of over £5 billion in annual sales if there is no boost to consumer confidence and an increase in the use in public transport.
Jace Tyrrell, chief executive at New West End Company, said: “While we have seen a slow increase in footfall, our retail and hospitality businesses require further support in light of shoppers’ concerns. With few international visitors, the next couple of months will be a defining moment for hundreds of West End businesses and protection of jobs is our top priority.
“Instilling confidence in our valued local and domestic customers to come to central London will make a huge change to the hard-hit businesses across our district. We would call on the Government to keep retail and hospitality front of mind and not forget the beating heart of the British economy as lockdown is eased.”
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