London retail and hospitality bodies have said that the sector is “suffering” due to ongoing tube strikes as the disruptions continue to take a large bite out of the sector’s earnings.
As Tube and rail strikes grind London to a halt this week, trade body UKHospitality has claimed that pub and restaurant businesses are expected to lose as much as £600m.
“Our pubs, bars, coffee shops, hotels and restaurants, to name a few, continue to suffer as collateral damage, with total lost sales since the start of the dispute last year now expected to reach more than £3bn,” Kate Nicholls, chief executive UKHospitality, said.
Commenting on the strikes, Dee Corsi, chief executive of New West End Company, also said that the knock on effect on retail businesses is “huge”.
She said: “We have just come out of what some retailers are calling their strongest half term on record, and we are seeing individual days when footfall is above 2019, yet our retailers and leisure businesses are having to face another setback.”
In December, when a flurry of strike action was also taking place, Corsi said retailers witnessed a 22 per cent decrease in footfall during the critical Christmas shopping season.
She continued: “Growth can only continue if our crucial transport infrastructure is up and running to bring visitors and workers into the West End. We hope that all parties can come to a resolution so that future industrial action can be avoided.”
It comes as Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union walk out again today and on Saturday 18 March in a dispute affecting train services in and out of London.
With no resolution set in place, Kris Hamer, director of insight at the British Retail Consortium, said that strikes will “slow the progress” retailers have made to encourage people back to the highstreet following on from the pandemic.
He said: “To avoid disruption, many people will opt to work from home, impacting already-vulnerable city centre businesses reliant on their custom. UK footfall remains down on pre-pandemic levels, and this will only slow the progress retailers have made to bring people back to stores.”