It’s a month since Westfield London opened and things are settling down in this part of west London. Footfall remains high and people are still shopping, but they are being selective.
And what is obvious is that the real players are becoming apparent, as are the also-rans. Zara continues to be mobbed and on Friday, the day it opened, the Disney Store had queues at the checkouts.
To an extent, this is Disney Store’s moment. As Christmas approaches and pester power becomes more urgent than usual, if there weren’t lines of people waiting to shell out for a Cinderella pencil case or a Mickey Mouse toy, then something really would be wrong. With its brightly lit interior, fairy dust logo and TV monitors at child height, this is a very efficient money-making machine. Disney’s new look, which is now in a handful of its 57 UK stores, is perfectly in tune with its target market.
The trouble is there really aren’t that many retailers whose stores are as clearly defined as Disney’s and many might have done better to enquire about the number of rivals to be found at Westfield. Take upmarket men’s shirts for example. Thomas Pink, Duchamp, TM Lewin and Hackett, all sell men’s formal shirts at a variety of prices. At the top end you can pay£130 for a floral shirt while by contrast a plain white shirt can be yours at TM Lewin for around£20. The point is, the higher up the price range you go, the emptier, in general, the stores are.
And this is before The Village (the mall’s designer area), with its slew of designer offers, really gets going. Stroll around The Village and the champagne bar is mobbed with shoppers sampling the good life by having a glass of fizz between visiting shops. This is affordable luxury. But look around at the bags carried by those who have actually bought something and it is the mid-market that totally dominates.
It will be interesting to see what happens when The Village is fully open. Will people spit in the face of the recession by shopping it, or will it be a white elephant? There can be little doubt that the shops will be good looking, but prices are likely to be off-putting. The last time there was a hard-hitting recession, in the early 1980s, we all moved towards formal dressing inspired by Brideshead Revisited on the TV and the desire to appear unmoved by hard times. But it was done on the cheap, getting the look without parting with large wads.
As Westfield London heads towards Christmas, the winners and losers are becoming clear.
Oh yes, and what is it with Hollister that it seems to take so long to open?