On the day we heard that “the Games of the 30th Olympiad are awarded to the city of London”, I was visiting a Woolworths store – God rest its soul.
On the day we heard that “the Games of the 30th Olympiad are awarded to the city of London”, I was visiting a Woolworths store – God rest its soul. That seems like an age ago, but now we’re exactly a year off.
The British Retail Consortium has always believed the Games are a great opportunity for retail. According to Visa, they will generate an extra £750m of consumer spending with over £700m of that coming from additional overseas visitors.
The athletes aren’t the only sort of competitors who can achieve big wins – but that’ll only happen with the right preparation because there’ll be some Olympic-sized challenges too.
It’s been described as getting ready for “business as unusual”. Put simply, retailers need plans in place so people and goods can get to stores safely. And they need the organisers to help them do that.
The Olympics and Paralympics cover 28 days. Some of the road network and delivery restrictions will be in place for as much as 100 days.
More than 900,000 extra visitors are expected in London. As potential shoppers that is brilliant news, but as public transport passengers stopping colleagues from getting to work, it’s a looming problem.
For retail to benefit fully from the Games and for retail to play the part it should in their success, you have to have the stock and staff to serve them. Over the past few years, the BRC has been increasingly engaged with bodies including the Olympic Delivery Authority and Transport for London on all of these issues.
They’re doing a lot right, but there’s more that has to happen. Final, detailed plans for the Olympic Road Network aren’t due out until later this year.
Meanwhile, developing transport schedules without a complete picture of which routes and stores will be affected isn’t easy. And with retailers on the Olympic Road Network only having a midnight to 6am delivery window, night time noise restrictions must be lifted and local residents must be told.
Then there’s security. Whether the threat is from terrorism, protests or theft, retailers need to have procedures and contingencies ready and rehearsed so they can go on trading despite potential or actual disruption.
The Home Office has been working with us on this potential problem, but it needs to remember the impact won’t only be in London. There are Olympic venues elsewhere and many more places will have crowds watching at big-screen events. What we need is a consistent approach across all the locations but, so far, there’s a lot less information available to businesses in towns and cities outside the capital.
And there’s a big appetite for it. In fact, the BRC is running an Olympic conference next month to share information and discuss these issues and we’ve already had to expand the capacity. Well it was either that or a three stage ticket-draw process.