West End Christmas intake to be squeezed by pandemic and cost of living at £1.55bn
West End Christmas intake is set to be a quarter up from last year but still almost 30 per cent down on pre-Covid levels.
Around £1.55bn is set to be splashed out in the heart of London’s shopping district, as the capital bounces back from the pandemic in a restriction-free Christmas.
The cost of living crisis however is set to temper people’s spending, with the amount 28 per cent down on 2019.
The New West End Company, which represents 600 outlets around Oxford Street and Bond Street, released its forecast for the eight week Christmas period this week.
It predicts sales will be up 24 per cent on last year, as it urged the government to U-turn on its decision to scrap tax-free shopping.
The company also called on Rishi Sunak to extend Sunday trading hours to give retailers an additional boost.
Forecasts show footfall is likely to be at around 83 per cent of 2019, with shoppers likely to spend across a longer period, instead of making big purchases, with a view to budgeting.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, said: “Many West End businesses are facing another uncertain winter as they navigate the fallout from the pandemic and the cost of living crisis which is also impacting the cost of doing business.”
“Whilst I’m delighted we can now welcome everyone back to the West End, it is clear more needs to be done to ensure this vital part of the London economy returns to full strength after three challenging years.”
Dee Corsi, interim chief executive of New West End Company 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.”
“However, the West End is much more than shopping and there are plenty of festive experiences – such as our world-renowned lights – which we encourage families to visit and enjoy for free.”
“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.”