Tube closures and snow deter London shoppers

Shopper numbers in central London fell last week at nearly twice the rate experienced in the rest of the country, as the capital was crippled by tube closures and snow.

For the week commencing January 26, according to SPSL's Retail Traffic Index, shopper numbers in the Regent Street, Oxford Street and New Bond Street areas were down 6.7 per cent, compared with the equivalent week last year. For the UK as a whole, retail traffic dropped 3.6 per cent.

The Central line was closed because of an accident on January 25, and has remained closed since. Mid-week snow then caused disruption on the roads and forced the closure of swathes of the Tube network.

'The Central line cessation undoubtedly affected access to Oxford Street,' said Dr Tim Denison, director of knowledge management at SPSL. But he said the fall was not as steep as might have been expected. 'It shows that for determined shoppers, where there's a will there's a way,' he added.

Big regional shopping centres in the Southeast escaped problems in the main. Bluewater in Kent, which was closed for the first time in its four-year history earlier last month because of bad weather, reported that it was hardly affected this time around.