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London's arts and culture sector hit hardest by Covid-19

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

1 Feb 2021

As the Chinese New Year holiday sweeps Asia this week, the key travel and shopping celebration many retailers have come to see as a sales opportunity, will bypass the UK. London, which in 2019 was voted one of the world’s top shopping destinations, remains closed to most international visitors. It comes as no surpise that new research published by London mayor Sadiq Khan shows central London’s economy has been hit hardest by Covid-19

London lost nearly 1 billion pounds per month since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, with tourism spending down 10.9 billion pounds. More than 26,000 jobs remain at risk in the arts and culture sector and the night-time economy also facing huge challenges, reported City AM.

The impact is likely to produce bigger challenges in London than those faced in other major cities including New York and Paris, due to fewer centrally-located residents and more reliance on visitors.

The Mayor of London said: “When London thrives, the whole country thrives, so supporting our city’s businesses to survive the coming months will be absolutely vital. With the right support from the government, more businesses will survive and contribute to what this report shows could be a rapid recovery, once tourists and commuters return in numbers.”

Drop in tourism

Khan commissioned the research to help City Hall and its partners understand the emerging trends that might affect London’s city centre economy. Many businesses and jobs in London’s sectors are at threat due to the growth in home-working, social distancing needs and a collapse in tourism. VisitBritain revealed that overseas tourist spending in central London was 7.4bn pounds lower in 2020 than the previous year, and domestic tourism down 3.5bn pounds.

A report from the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) released in January said 2020 was the worst for High Street job losses in more than 25 years. Nearly 180,000 retail jobs were lost last year, up by almost a quarter from 2019, the CRR said.