Business and government representatives are holding an emergency meeting to discuss ways of getting shoppers and tourists back into the West End as figures out on Wednesday showed a sharp drop in visitors following the July terrorist attacks.
The New West End Company, the management body for West End retailers, is meeting the London mayor’s office, Visit London, the Central London Partnership and Westminster city council this month to assess the economic impact of the bombings and draw up a plan to redress the business impact.
“We need to assess the impact of the attacks by getting information from these bodies,” said Jace Tyrrell, of the New West End Company. “Then we need to develop a co-ordinated strategy with the agencies to ensure we can maintain visitor numbers and build confidence for the West End community and its retailers.”
The West End generates £5.5bn in annual sales and attracts more than 200m visitors a year. However, the number of shoppers in central London fell 12.6 per cent in July against last year, according to SPSL, the customer research company.
It said the drop-off in visitors had accelerated following the second terrorist attack – having bounced back at first – as would-be visitors delayed trips amid fears of more attacks.
Tim Denison, director of Knowledge management at SPSL, said that for the week starting July 24, shopper numbers in the congestion zone were down 18 per cent year-on-year. indicating that many day-trippers and tourists had decided to delay or abort shopping trips.
“It seems terrorist activity is now considered an ongoing, everyday threat which will continue to impact on the London stores and potentially further afield for some months to come.”
Footfall, which also measures visitor numbers in central London, said its research showed people were opting to shop on the outskirts rather than in the centre, with shopper numbers up 1.82 per cent for the London region month-on-month.
“Consumers are still shopping but those who would normally visit central London have been displaced and are choosing to stay closer to home,” said David Smyth, director of business planning at FootFall.