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West End sales to hit 1.55 billion pounds during ‘challenging’ festive season

By Rachel Douglass


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Image: Unsplash

In the build up to the first restriction-free Christmas in three years, British retailers could still be facing a number of headwinds brought on by the rising cost of living and the continued absence of international travellers.

In London’s West End, forecasted sales are expected to hit 1.55 billion pounds, 28 percent less than the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

The figures were provided by New West End Company (NWEC), which represents 600 retail, restaurant, hotel and property owners across the city’s bustling shopping and entertainment district.

The firm noted that although spending is predicted to be up 24 percent year-on-year, its revenue for the area will only make up a quarter of all sales across 2022.

Footfall figures for the area are also due to remain at 83 percent of those in 2019, and will possibly remain consistent with last month's figures as consumers could likely spread their shopping budget across the eight-week trading period.

NWEC calls on government to amend VAT-free shopping and store opening times

In a release, the real estate company’s interim chief executive, Dee Corsi, noted that in order to succeed in the long-term, the UK’s high street and the wider country needs to remain globally competitive.

Corsi added: “There are a number of simple routes to achieving this that the government is overlooking, or simply ignoring. Without an independent assessment of tax-free shopping and a review of Sunday trading hours in London’s International Centres, we risk putting London and the UK at a severe global disadvantage.”

NWEC is among the growing number of retailers and associations calling on the Treasury to reintroduce VAT-free shopping for international visitors.

It is also asking for a simplification of the UK’s visitor visa system, which it said had fallen behind those offered by other competing holiday destinations.

The company is further hoping for a revision of retail opening times in the district, with stores often forced to close by 6pm on Sundays, limiting spending opportunities.

Its release continued: “NWEC believes that it is crucial that retail businesses are given the opportunity to cater to weekend city break shoppers, with its own research estimating that an additional 250 million pound worth of sales would be generated annually at no extra cost to the Treasury.”

New West End Company
West End