West End income from tourism has soared in the period following the Brexit vote, with American and Chinese visitors the highest contributors.
US visitors, who accounted for 10% of West End foreign spend, spent 44% more than they did in the previous July, while Chinese tourists, who generated 30%, spent 21% more – equating to an average of £1,410 per person.
Overall, West End sales figures rose 4.9% to £400m. Oxford Street sales surged 7.3% while Bond Street sales rocketed 11.5% and department store sales increased 8.7%.
However retailers in the West End face an average business rate increase of 80% in 2017, a tariff that could cut profits by around 25%, according to the New West End Company retail consultancy.
New West End Company chief executive Jace Tyrrell said: “Tourists looking to cash in on the weak pound have helped to alleviate, albeit on a temporary basis, some of the shockwaves that hit the economy following the Brexit vote.
“However the longer-term horizon once the process of leaving the EU gets underway looks less bright. Business rates revaluation in early 2017 will hit West End retailers’ profits hard … this will undoubtedly have a knock-on effect to jobs and investment around the UK.
“In the new post-Brexit [vote] environment the Government should reconsider the conditions that previously informed this decision and instead look to support this critical part of Britain’s economy that can make a huge contribution to the UK’s economic wellbeing in uncertain times ahead.”
The West End makes a contribution of £52bn to the economy, which outstrips that of the City of London, claims the New West End Company.