NWEC says West End footfall on encouraging path
Visitors have been returning to the West End of London in large numbers in the past week since so-called Freedom Day last Monday when just about all lockdown restrictions were eased in England.
The New West End Company said that footfall rose 4% last week compared to the week before, helped by a mini heatwave and the reopening of the capital’s nightlife.
It said the busiest days were Saturday and Sunday with an increase of 14% compared to the previous weekend.
The uplift came as a survey this month showed that London is among the top destinations for Britons forced to take staycations for their holidays this year.
NWEC surveyed 1,200 adults and of the more-than-half planning a summer holiday, many cited city breaks as their goal with London the most popular destination.
Despite the ongoing absence of international tourists, this local tourist surge led NWEC to predict a spending boom as nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said they’d spend the same amount as they usually do on a foreign holiday.
Jace Tyrrell, Chief Executive at New West End Company, which represents 600 businesses on Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street and in Mayfair, said of the latest footfall increase: “The removal of restrictions has proved a big hit for the West End, with visitors safely returning to not only enjoy the many retailers and restaurants in the sunshine, but to make the most of the thriving nightlife that is once again open for business. We remain optimistic and expect footfall numbers to continue to rise. It has been a relief to see that the perseverance shown by businesses in the district during this difficult time is beginning to pay off.”
But he added that footfall remains well below pre-pandemic levels and is likely to stay that way for some time. He feels more government support “in the form of extended Sunday trading hours and fundamental business rates reform” could “allow retailers, restaurants and bars the opportunity to thrive once again”.
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