West End footfall continues downtrend despite proximity to Christmas
Consumer nervousness continues to impact key retail destinations with the New West End Company saying Friday that visitor traffic to Oxford, Regent and Bond Streets has dropped again at a time when it should be rising.
Figures aren’t yet out for other key shopping cities in Britain, but it’s likely that a similar picture will emerge as the Omicron variant and government warnings make consumers cautious.
NWEC, which represents 600 brands and businesses in London’s important West End shopping neighbourhood cited a fall on Thursday with footfall down 7% compared to a week earlier. And of course, it’s still down nearly a third (32%) from pre-pandemic figures.
That said, the area was busy on Thursday afternoon, the Fashion Network team noted, just not as busy as usual at this time of year.
Thursday is significant because it would be expected to be a big shopping day coming near the end of the week and so close to Christmas. But it also comes after the rhetoric from the Government, and from respected figures like Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, has ramped up. Whitty, for instance, advised people to be extremely careful this festive season due to Omicron.
Jace Tyrrell, CEO of New West End Company, said: “Footfall on Thursday, which is traditionally one of the most popular days for festive shopping, dipped. With rising Covid cases dampening consumer confidence and a planned Tube strike looming on Saturday, we’re anticipating a muted final weekend of Christmas trading at a time when West End businesses should be enjoying a much needed boost.”
And he repeated his calls for financial support: “The Government must act quickly to provide temporary financial support to leisure businesses across the UK, otherwise we run the risk of further viable businesses closing their doors in the coming months. These businesses have made significant investments into their Christmas plans, and the Treasury must offer support to mitigate cash flow loss at this crucial time to ensure that businesses can bounce back strongly in 2022.”
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