West End revenues to hit £1.55bn in 'challenging' festive season
The looming festive shopping season is expected to be much better for the West End of London than the same season last year. But with the cost-of-living crisis and still-small numbers of international shoppers, retailers are facing a particularly tough trading period.
That’s according to industry body the New West End Company (NWEC), which said that £1.55 billion is forecast to be spent over the eight-week period in the key shopping neighbourhood, up 24% from 2021 but still down 28% on 2019 figures.
With rising inflation and a lack of high-spending overseas visitors, footfall remains at 83% of pre-pandemic levels and NWEC repeated its calls for the Government to reconsider its U-turn on the reintroduction of tax free shopping and also to extend Sunday trading hours.
NWEC said the shopping season will be “challenging”, despite the opportunities promised for the first restriction-free Christmas in three years.
The figure of £1.55 billion will add up to a quarter of total sales across the year, highlighting the importance of the season to retail not just in London but across the UK.
Dee Corsi, NWEC’s Interim Chief Executive, said: “We know that this year’s festive season may be particularly challenging with the continued cost-of-living increases, and we’re expecting some families to be more cautious with how they spend.
“Whilst I’m heartened to see the West End’s recovery continue to grow this winter, for us to succeed in the long term we need to ensure that the nation’s high street and the wider country remains globally competitive. There are a number of simple routes to achieving this that the Government is overlooking, or simply ignoring. Without an independent assessment of tax-free shopping and a review of Sunday trading hours in London’s International Centres, we risk putting London and the UK at a severe global disadvantage.”
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