The independent London newspaper

Fears for 50,000 West End jobs in sales slump

Partnership seeks government clarity ‘for our businesses to survive’

17 July, 2020 — By Tom Foot

FIFTY-thousand West End jobs are at risk after new figures showed footfall is dramatically down despite the lockdown measures being lifted.

The New West End Company – which claims to represent 600 businesses across Oxford Street, Bond Street, Regent Street and Mayfair – made the warning and called for an urgent response from the government.

New figures show just over five million people have come to the West End since June 15 – down 76 per cent on last year.

The New West End Company says business is being “significantly held back by a series of restrictions” and uncertainty about “the use of public transport”.

It adds that the lack of domestic and international tourists and office workers could lead to a £5billion loss in sales, putting over 50,000 jobs at risk.

Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of the business partnership, said: “While the government’s measures take the first step in supporting the West End’s recovery, without consumer confidence to travel and visit, this situation is highly precarious – with 50,000 jobs that are at risk.”

He added: “With no international visitors and mixed messaging surr­ounding the safety of returning to work and using public transport, we urgently seek clarity of government messaging for our businesses to survive.”

Mr Tyrell said the government should con­sider matching “tax-free shopping” proposals being considered by the European Union.

This could boost retail sales by £1.4billion each year, according to the business partnership.

Ian Earnshaw, a director at fashion brand Mulberry, backed a tax-free shopping scheme idea saying it could help the West End “regain a competitive advantage against other retail centres and compete on the global stage”.

The footfall figures come from the customer data activity specialists Springboard who said that in central London footfall was “languishing at 76.2 per cent lower than last year”.


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