Tourists will fill West End

CENTRAL London shops expect to receive a glut of foreign customers this winter, enticed to the capital by the current weakness of the pound.<br /><br />The New West End Company, which represents retailers in Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, is expecting a 5-10 per cent year-on-year increase in foreign shoppers over the festive period.<br /><br />With less than 50 days to go until Christmas, and more shoppers hitting the stores early to wrap up their present buying, it promises to be a particularly busy time for London&rsquo;s shops.<br /><br />The Christmas shopping season officially began when the lights were turned on last week.<br /><br />It is expected to bring around 40m shoppers to the West End, and 10m of those will come from overseas.<br /><br />Middle Eastern shoppers are known for being the biggest spenders, and it is expected that there will be 15-20 per cent more visitors from the Middle East than last year.<br /><br />Also cashing in on the favourable exchange rate will be European shoppers, who for the first time have outnumbered American tourists this year.<br /><br />Half of the &pound;2bn spent in London by tourists each year normally comes from the US.<br /><br />This will be the first Christmas shopping season with Oxford Circus&rsquo; new Tokyo-style pedestrian crossing, unveiled by the Mayor last week.<br /><br />It allows for diagonal road crossing, and is expected to double the number of people who can cross at any one time.<br /><br />It is part of a &pound;5m remodelling programme to make shopping easier, which also included removing railings and traffic islands, and widening the pavements.<br />