Evolving Oxford St is bouncing back says NWEC chief
Oxford Street is set to see something “really special” and “exciting”. That's the upbeat view from Dee Corsi, chief executive of the The New West End Company, the body that represents London’s West End retailers.
Corsi bases her positive outlook on store development and a boost in international tourism “signalling a return to better times for London’s most iconic shopping district”, City AM reports her saying.
She said the capital’s West End is “changing” and the stores that were not wiped out during the pandemic “are investing to create unique experiences to entice customers back to the high street”.
The reputation of Oxford Street has been damaged over the past few years with the loss of flagship stores such as Topshop, an invasion of American Candy stores and a rise in hybrid working damaging footfall.
However, Corsi said the shopping district is on track to return to historic revenue levels by 2025, with the influx of international tourists driving sales.
“Average transaction value is really strong at the moment. So for the month of March, we are around 6% higher in terms of sales than we were in 2019, and driving that is international,” she said.
While footfall remains around 20%-30% below pre-pandemic levels, Corsi said this was outperformed by the rebound in sales. “The footfall that is coming is spending and that is a really important point to note,” she said.
But figures from the ONS revealed that 40% of Londoners now participate in hybrid working and Corsi said a lack of office workers doing some lunchtime shopping has impacted footfall. But it's having a good effect at the weekend.
“So during the week, footfall is strong Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday but Mondays and Fridays can be a little bit more challenging. However, the weekends are back, Saturdays back and Sundays are the second busiest shopping day,” she said.
To capitalise on Sunday spending, Corsi and the Knightsbridge Partnership have urged the government to relax Sunday trading restrictions to rake in an estimated £350 million a year.
“If you look at a growth measure that doesn’t cost the government anything, you would like to think that that is something that they will consider very seriously,” she said.
“We’re in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. So to be able to potentially offer people two more hours on a Sunday to get that pay, you would hope would be something very positive.”
Removing the trading restrictions, which only allows shops to trade between 10am and 6pm on a Sunday, would allow London to be “globally competitive”, she added.
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