East London shopping centre Westfield Stratford is to close this Friday and Saturday to all shoppers without Olympic Games tickets, it has been announced today.
Games organisers including LOCOG, TfL and the Metropolitan Police are implementing managed access to the site due to the high numbers of expected visitors, meaning that the centre may see footfall and sales plummet at a time when strong results had been expected.
Adjacent to the Olympic Park, the centre has announced that only London 2012 workers and ticket holders will be able to enter the £1.45 billion space between the hours of 10.30am and 5pm on the designated days.
Housing British favourites including Karen Millen, Goldsmiths and John Lewis, an official Olympic sponsor of the event which saw total sales rise 11.2 per cent year-on-year for the week ending July 21st 2012 thanks to the popularity of Olympic merchandise, the centre is assisting London 2012 organisers in managing huge visitor numbers.
A statement from Westfield Stratford said: “On these days, all Olympic Park venues will be operational resulting in a large increase in the number of Olympic Games visitors.
“To assist with the smooth running of the Games, Westfield is working with the Games organisers to allow Centre access to accredited personnel, hospitality visitors and Games ticket holders only between the hours of 10.30am and 5.00 pm on these two busy days.
“Outside these hours, Westfield Stratford City‘s shops will be open to all visitors until 11.00pm and restaurants and leisure until at 12:30am.
“Extended trading hours will resume on Sunday 5 of August with all shops open until 11pm and restaurants and leisure until 12:30am.”
Despite high hopes for the much-anticipated event, London seems to have seen a significant reduction in visitors and this closure will further dampen spirits.
Trevor Wood, Senior Partner at analyst firm Trevor Wood Associates, told Retail Gazette: “I am surprised that Westfield Stratford is blocking the centre to members of the public.
“People want to go in and watch events and when the event‘s over a lot of people want to go shopping.
“Anecdotal reports suggest that not many people are shopping but just passing through and at the moment it is unclear why.
“I imagine many people will be irritated by the closure but I doubt it will have a long-term effect.”