London’s West End is poised to see a £4 billion boost in turnover by 2021 thanks to an influx of new shoppers brought by the Elizabeth Line.
According to new research from Arup alongside the New West End Company, The Fitzrovia Partnership and Heart of London Business Alliance, nearly 70 million extra visitors are expected to flood the West End in the three years after the first phase of the Elizabeth Line opens in December.
This unprecedented lift in footfall is predicted to raise turnover from £9 billion in 2017, to £13 billion by 2021.
It is also set to transform the country’s most lucrative retail destination and both the public and private sectors have laid out plans to make sure they are “fully prepared to welcome our new visitors, provide a first-class experience”.
This includes the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street with a view to reallocating space to pedestrians along Regent Street, while introducing traffic-free areas at peak times.
Though the report cautions that retailers have a role to play in order to “attract and sustain visitors”, with many flagships such as Debenhams and Selfridges understood to be shifting their focus to a more experience-led offering, it also lays out the potential benefits.
Following the full operation of the new rail line, the West End’s catchment area is set to expand by almost 30 per cent, with 60 per cent of people expected to visit the area more often.
This is likely to translate into a daily turnover of £31 million by 2021.
“The opening of the Elizabeth line is a once-in-a-generation development that is already spurring significant investment in the district,” New West End Company chief executive Jace Tyrrell said.
“If we take full advantage of this opportunity we can secure the long-term future of the West End as a world-class leisure and retail district.
“Yet we must also consider the challenges a development of this size presents and put plans in place now to ensure we are fully prepared to welcome our new visitors, provide a first-class experience and ensure that the West End continues to play a key role in supporting London’s £22 billion visitor economy.
Arup’s director of city economics Alex Jan added: “After nearly half a century, the West End is at last on the brink of fulfilling its potential as the world’s premier destination for living, working and visiting. Crossrail lies at the heart of delivering this opportunity.”