West End retail enjoyed Olympic boost

For all the talk of a 'ghost town' in the centre of London during the Olympics, it seems the West End enjoyed a temporary boom while the games were happening on the other side of London.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

If you’d been reading any newspaper in the UK in the first week of the Olympic, you’d be forgiven for thinking there was not a soul in the centre of London. Retailers everywhere were enraged by an over-effective campaign by Olympic officials to get people away from London. Actually…not so. According to data provider, Springboard, footfall rose 5% in London during London 2012, with the West End specifically experiencing almost 11% extra footfall in the second week, compared with the same week last year.

If anything the results are actually the opposite to what pundits were expecting. Footfall increased in London, but the average across all towns and cities in the UK fell by 0.2% compared with the previous year. It is worth remembering though, that this could be partly because millions of people were literally staying at home to watch the games on their television instead of going out shopping. The Olympics garnered some of the highest viewing figures the UK has ever seen for a single programme.

A particular winner from the London boost was John Lewis, which reported sales rising 14.9% for that week, compared with the same period last year. It cited a 35% jump in the amount of champagne bottles shifted, as well a truckloads of sports-related merchandise.

We’re hoping that the Olympic ‘glow’ is not a temporary thing. Unemployment fell this week, and it was revealed that the construction sector is doing better than thought, and therefore that the 0.7% contraction in GDP was probably too pessimistic a figure. There may yet be hope for a recovery within the next 12 months…

Tags:
Economy Retail

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