London’s West End posts “strong recovery” as Brits return

Shaftesbury owns parts of Chinatown, Soho and Covent Garden
// West End landlord Shaftesbury reports growth in footfall
// Footfall returned to about half the level pre-Covid thanks to Londoners and domestic tourists
// Central London is still lacking presence of overseas tourists as well as office workers

London’s West End has reported that shoppers are returning to the area, with footfall bouncing back to about half the level before the pandemic.

Central London landlord Shaftesbury, which owns parts of Chinatown, Soho and Covent Garden, said Londoners and domestic tourists are returning in growing numbers.

Footfall has risen 50 to 60 per cent of pre-Covid levels.

READ MORE: London’s West End “optimistic” about recovery despite £338m loss

However, central London is missing the presence of overseas tourists as well as office workers.

Shaftesbury said retailers renting space in its buildings had reported trade was improving, particularly at weekends, although this had been less buoyant than in hospitality businesses.

The landlord owns 6.5 hectares (16 acres) of land in central London, and was upbeat in its assessment of trade, despite the continued slump in footfall in the West End.

A report from the Centre for Cities thinktank showed worker footfall in the capital was just 15 per cent of pre-Covid levels at the end of July, slightly lower than the average for 30 of the UK’s big cities.

“The progress we have seen towards a return to normal patterns of activity over the period, and improving medium-term prospects, have been catalysts for a strong recovery in confidence and leasing activity, both for commercial and residential accommodation across our locations,” Shaftesbury chief executive, Brian Bickell said.

“The momentum of the last four months is providing a sound platform for the continuing revival of the West End in the important months ahead, leading up to Christmas and into the new year, and the prospects for a return to pre-pandemic patterns of life and activity.”

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