West End aims to win back shoppers over festive period
Retail businesses in London’s West End have unveiled a raft of shopping guidelines to ensure that they provide a safe, covid-secure environment for shoppers, retail and leisure workers throughout the festive season.
The plans cover cleanliness, street security and ways to boost consumer confidence in the eight-weeks in the run-up to Christmas when the retailers usually make nearly a third of their annual sales.
Research carried out on behalf of New West End Company, the organisation representing businesses in the shopping district, reveals that customer confidence in shopping in person has declined. The study found that only 40% of people felt confident in shopping for non-essential items, with the need to use public transport to reach the area being cited as the main concern.
After an initial bounce back, footfall across the West End has stalled since the summer, especially as the Government has once again advised the public to avoid unnecessary travel. This means the district is currently receiving just 50% of its usual amount of visitors.
Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of New West End Company said: “The West End normally records around a third of its annual sales in the eight week lead up to Christmas, trade that is essential to the survival of many retailers. We recognise that shoppers are frustrated and fearful, and that their usual shopping plans have been disrupted. We are within easy and safe reach of millions of shoppers, and I can promise that despite the restrictions there will be no place more magical in the world to experience Christmas than the West End this season.”
The area is bringing forward its Christmas light switch-on programme across Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street, with the first lights being switched on in Oxford Street on 2 November. It has also put in place a number of measures to make people feel safe when shopping.
Tyrell added: “One in ten Londoners work in the West End, and so it is absolutely vital that we not only instil customer confidence to support local jobs, but that we also remove barriers that may discourage the public from coming to the district. That’s why we are working closely with the government and Transport for London across a number of initiatives to promote confidence amongst shoppers this Christmas season.”
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