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West End Boxing Day footfall 44 percent below pre-Covid levels

By Huw Hughes

27 Dec 2021

Retail

Image: The West End Company

Boxing Day footfall in London’s West End on Sunday was 44 percent lower than the same day in 2019, prior to the outbreak of the pandemic.

Compared with the previous week, footfall was down 16 percent as concerns continue to mount over the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

Jace Tyrrell, the chief executive of New West End Company, which represents 600 businesses on Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street and Mayfair, said the drop in footfall was “expected” as “swathes” of people chose to shop the sales online “rather than risk travelling into city centres”.

He said this was added to by the limitations of Sunday Trading regulations, resulting in a “muted start to the post-Christmas sales period”.

“We hope that the Prime Minister will provide further clarity on possible restrictions this week to ensure that businesses are given enough time to prepare for any further changes,” Tyrrell said.

Boris Johnson is expected to make an announcement on Monday about new steps to tackle Omicron.

Tyrrell urged chancellor Rishi Sunak to “deliver tangible relief for the retail industry, alongside more substantial measures for leisure businesses”.

He said: “Business rates remain the biggest burden on West End businesses and we implore the government to introduce support that is inclusive of all businesses that are paying the price of the lack of customers over the winter months.

“It is vital that businesses, particularly those in city centres across the UK, are given the right financial support if they are to bounce back strongly in 2022.”