Retailers in the West End have reported a improvement in their fortunes as shoppers flooded back to the district, boosted by the Olympics.
Heart of London, which represents the business improvement district including Piccadilly, St James’s, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, said footfall was up last week despite reports that the area had been quiet as shoppers avoided the area because of transport congestion fears.
Heart of London reported that footfall rose 11.6% week on week between Monday and Thursday last week and that traffic was up 16.2% on the same week last year.
The New West End Company (NWEC), which represents Bond Street, Regent Street and Oxford Street, revealed on Friday that it would run a “six figure” advertising campaign, combined with social media, to lure shoppers back to the shopping district which some had described as a ‘ghost town’.
London mayor Boris Johnson said the number of Tube passengers was up 27% last Saturday night, when the Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletics team enjoyed one of the most successful nights in their history, winning three gold medals.
Retailers hope the athletes’ success will boost to consumer confidence. However some analysts have suggested the effect of the Games will only be felt in London.
On the Olympic Park in Stratford, shoppers queued for more than an hour to get into the official merchandise shop on Saturday.
However, Westfield Stratford City, the shopping centre which flanks the park, was only open to Olympic ticket holders and officials between 10.30am and 5pm on Friday and Saturday amid fears over congestion.
Johnson told the Press Association: “This jaw-dropping weekend of outstanding sporting success for Team GB has seen many hundreds of thousands of people travelling to 2012 venues and crowds several deep lining the streets to cheer on triathlon and marathon competitors.”