Footfall in London’s West End remains stubbornly low

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Footfall in London's West End remains stubbornly low
The continued absence of international tourists, who usually make up a third of all visitors and 45 per cent of spend, also means that spending is likely to be even lower.
// Three months after lockdown weekly footfall remains down 56% on last year
// New West End Company, which compiled the data, says footfall recovery since July has stalled

Footfall in London’s West End remains stubbornly low, with visitor numbers still more than half of what it was this time last year as travel restrictions and lack of workers returning to offices continuing to have a knock-on effect.

The latest data from New West End Company, which represents 600 businesses across the Oxford Street, Bond Street, Regent Street and Mayfair precincts in central London, reveals that three months on from non-essential retail reopening, visitors to the West End are down 56 per cent year-on-year.

Prior to July, footfall had been rising steadily in the area but New West End Company said it has since stalled, with figures up only one per cent on August as office workers continue to stay away.


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The continued absence of international tourists, who usually make up a third of all visitors and 45 per cent of spend, also means that spending is likely to be even lower.

“West End retailers and hoteliers have shown remarkable resilience in retaining staff in the expectation of the return of commuters and tourists,” New West End Company chief executive Jace Tyrrell said.

“Within the West End without focused and coherent support the government is risking up to 50,000 job losses before the end of the year.

“Yet rather than offering hope, the Treasury is making things worse by scrapping tax relief for overseas visitors.

“If we are to help the 2.5 million across the country who remain on furlough back into the shops, restaurants, hotels where they previously worked we should not be boosting the tourism industry of Paris and Rome by closing our doors to international visitors.”

The withdrawal of the VAT Retail Export Scheme was made by the Treasury last week.

Earlier this week, the New West End Company joined retail, leisure and tourism bosses to warn that far from securing an extra £500 million in tax from the £3.5 billion spent each year by international visitors, the move risks those sales moving overseas as the UK will be the only country in Europe not providing this service.

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