West End launches new measures to attract Christmas shoppers
London’s West End is going the extra mile to attract shoppers for the run-up to the festive period. The area is going ahead with Christmas-focused attractions and upping its safety measures to attract shoppers at a time when London is seeing record low footfall and new Covid-linked restrictions come into effect.
Oxford Street and Bond Street will switch on their Christmas lights on November 2 and November 12, respectively, which are the earliest-ever switch-on dates for the two key shopping thoroughfares. This should help to spread out festive shopping across a longer period.
And Regent Street will repeat its previously-successful Spirit of Christmas showcase from the middle of next month.
The West End is also introducing 24-hour cleaning and security patrols, extra cycle parking spaces for consumers worried about public transport, and “social distancing ambassadors” to help shoppers feel more secure.
The two months before Christmas are usually a crucial period for retailers and can make or break the entire year. Businesses on average take in around a third of the year’s revenue total during the period. In 2020, those months are even more important as retailers try to fight back from the crushing lockdown and weak post-reopening sales.
The West End continues to struggle, with its footfall down more than 50% year-on-year as tourists and office workers stay away.
New West End Company chief executive Jace Tyrrell said “shoppers are frustrated and fearful” but that the measures being put in place will ensure that the West End can still be “magical” during the festive season.
The appeal of the West End as a general destination should be helped by the fact that bars and restaurants are being allowed by Westminster Council to use outdoor heaters and umbrellas to encourage alfresco dining and drinking during the autumn and winter.
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