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London West End retailers upbeat about Christmas


Retailers in London’s West End are optimistic about sales over the festive period following a year-on-year increase in footfall of one per cent last week, it was announced today.

Compared to the previous week, footfall rose three per cent in the seven days commencing November 28th 2011, prompting confidence for the last month of the year as retailers prepare for promotions and events to help drive sales.

New West End Company announced that sales in the area, which includes Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, dipped 2.6 per cent year-on-year in November but the organisation expects that festive entertainment planned for this weekend will improve figures.

On Saturday and Sunday, Oxford Street and Regent Street will be traffic-free from 11am-6pm and midday-5pm respectively as the West End hosts the seventh annual American Express Shop West End VIP - Very Important Pedestrian - Weekend.

It is forecasting that £150 million will go through the retailers’ tills and Meave Wall, Selfridges’ Store Director, expects her company’s collection of designer handbags, watches and accessories to sell particularly well.

“The American Express Shop West End VIP Weekend is the biggest shopping weekend of the Christmas season and, as in previous years, we are anticipating strong sales across all our departments,” she said.

“As shoppers start to prepare for Christmas Day itself, the Christmas Shop and our food hall will be a big draw.”

Retailers across the hugely popular area, including Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser and John Lewis, are feeling positive about the upcoming rush despite last month’s disappointing figures which Richard Dickinson, CEO of New West End Company, explained should not be overstated.

“In November, which saw above-average temperatures hindering winter fashion sales and impact from major roadworks, it is not surprising that sales took a dip in the West End but December is already looking brighter,” he commented.

“We have heard encouraging reports from retailers that sales are gaining momentum. Across the West End, retailers are preparing for our traffic-free weekend with a potential £150 million sales boost for the biggest shopping weekend of the year.”

Aiming to raise over £75,000 for charity Kids Company and give over 3,000 vulnerable children a proper Christmas, American Express will provide double rewards to card members and £1 to Kids Company every time an American Express Card is used in the West End over the weekend.

This year’s shopping extravaganza will host London’s longest 30-hour Carol-A-Thon, which will take place at Oxford Circus, and Jace Tyrell of West End Company said that the event will be a community affair.

“Everyone from the local street wardens to established pop stars will be lending their voices to the Carol-A-Thon across the weekend and with other traditional Christmas music acts and entertainment up and down Oxford Street and Regent Street, shoppers are in for a real festive treat,” he commented.

“We want shoppers to come and cheer on our carollers throughout the day and night and we’d really welcome some vocal support for the early morning Sunday shift.”

Published on Friday 09 December by Editorial Assistant

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