Traffic free day earns London shops £250m

Julian Harris
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OVER £250m was spent in West End shops this weekend, as consumers took advantage of the sixth annual traffic-free “VIP Day” in Oxford Street and Regent Street.

And retailers are delighted with a reported boom in sales of “big ticket” items, after recent data pointed to a slump in people’s willingness to splash out on major purchases.

“Many stores have reported over a 10 per cent rise in sales of big ticket items,” said Richard Dickinson of New West End Company, a collaboration of large West End stores.

Shoppers spent an average of £200 each, a huge jump from last year’s average of £120. Cutting edge consumer electronics led the way, with large sales in 3D televisions and 4G smart phones.

VIP Day (“Very Important Pedestrians”) saw 1,000 buses re-routed. Benefiting from the surge of on-foot shoppers was Starlight, a charity for seriously and terminally ill children. American Express pledged to donate £1 every time a card was used over the weekend.

And the day is a boon for the local economy, according to councillor Brian Connell of Westminster Council.

“More than 350,000 jobs are dependent on the West End’s ongoing success,’ he said. “VIP day is a great way for shoppers to stock up before Christmas."