Industrial action on the London Underground planned for Boxing Day will add more worries onto an already under pressure retail sector.
Snow over the last week has severely affected pre-Christmas trading and with VAT rising to 20 per cent in January, Boxing Day will have added significance for the industry.
London represents a fifth of the UK’s overall retail spending but this year consumers will find it harder to reach the capital’s shops on one of the busiest days in the shopping calendar due to a strike over tube drivers’ pay.
Director General of the British Retail Consortium, Stephen Robertson, said: “This could be a major blow for London’s retailers and their customers on what’s now one of their most important days of the year. 380,000 jobs directly depend on a successful retailing sector in the capital.
“Retailers in London need a strong start to the post-Christmas sales. On the back of disruption caused by severe winter weather and student protests, they now face a difficult time in 2011 as VAT goes up and public sector cuts begin to take effect.”
Members of Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Fireman (Aslef) voted by a majority of nine to one in favour of industrial action in response to London Underground (LU)’s decision to treat Boxing Day as a normal working day and not award premium pay to employees.
Aslef members employed by LU will be withdrawing their labour between 00:01 and 23:59 BST on December 26th 2010.
Robertson added: “Everyone involved in the tube drivers’ dispute needs to recognise the importance of London retailing and the damage disruption on this scale will cause.”