Today’s London Underground strikes are unlikely to affect retail sales and will have minimal impact on the economy, according to a leading economist.
Almost all underground lines have been closed for 24 hours starting from 21:00 BST on September 6th and many commuters found it a struggle to make it to work this morning.
Fears have surfaced that the transport disruption would discourage shoppers from travelling and limit retailers’ opening hours.
There are over 500,000 retail employees in London, according to the most recent Office for National Statistics figures, and opening hours for the capital’s shops will have almost certainly been affected by the disruption.
Vicky Redwood, Senior Retail Economist for Capital Economics, argues that retailers are likely to later recoup most of any losses suffered today.
Redwood commented: “Normally with things like this, people simply do their shopping that they would have done during the strike at another time, meaning that the overall cost to retailers is relatively small.
“And if people worked from home or cancelled plans to go out during the strikes, sales of, for example, food, could even be higher.”
Today’s industrial action was called by the Rail, Maritime & Transport and Transport Salaried Staffs Association union members challenging the loss of 800 ticket office jobs planned by London Underground.
Reports had suggested that the strikes would cost the London economy around £50 million but Redwood cautioned against being blinded by big numbers.
Redwood added: “Note too that £50 million sounds large – but it’s equivalent to just 0.003 per cent of the overall economy or GDP.
“Nonetheless, the disrupted caused clearly has at least some cost for retailers.”