West End sales slump

Published:  01 August, 2005

The month-long disruption after the July 7 bombings and the attempted repeat on July 21 has hit central London retailers hard. But suburban shopping centres look to have gained trade as shoppers looked for safer destinations.

Few retailers were willing to disclose trade figures, but John Lewis reported a 27 per cent slump in trade at its central London stores during the first week after the bombs, with an 18 per cent decline during the second week. The London Retail Consortium revealed like-for-like sales in central London fell by 8.9 per cent in July, the worst fall since records began in 2002.

A snapshot by FootFall on July 28 showed pedestrian traffic in the West End down almost 11 per cent year-on-year, and the New West End Company called for urgent action to rebuild shopper confidence. “It is important at this time that all organisations concerned with the West End’s wellbeing rise to the very real challenges which face us now and in the future,” said chief operating officer Gary Reeves.

But if there was any upside to the situation, it was felt in suburban locations. The same FootFall survey showed pedestrian traffic up almost 13 per cent year-on-year in outer London.

FootFall business planning director David Smyth said: “Consumers are still shopping but the impression is that those who would normally visit central London have been displaced from their normal shopping patterns.”

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