More than 50,000 jobs are at risk in London’s West End unless there is a dramatic increase in shoppers and commuters, business leaders said yesterday.
Weeks after the 1,200 stores were cleared to reopen, the number of people moving to the West End in July continued to drop by almost two-thirds from the same period last year.
The world-renowned retail and hospitality district is home to 216,000 jobs, and business executives have issued a warning cry that nearly one in four could go into a wave of business failures and layoffs.
Ghost town: Weeks after its 1,200 stores were cleared to reopen, the number of people heading to the West End continued to drop by nearly two-thirds
The broader retail sector is already suffering the weight of the three-month lockdown, followed by weak demand, exacerbated by social distancing.
Nearly 27,000 jobs have been cut by Britain’s largest retailers headed by Boots, WH Smith and Marks & Spencer.
In addition, according to data from the Federation of Small Businesses, at least 53,000 have been laid off by independent retailers.
Yesterday, the country’s main shopping district, where visitors usually congregate to visit the flagship stores of the world’s most famous brands, made a desperate plea for help.
Hundreds of thousands of commuters who head into town for dinner, a drink or the theater continue to work from home
One of the West End’s most high-profile residents, Selfridges has already cut 450 jobs in its four stores in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
Shops in the city center are hit by a crash in the number of foreign tourists, who usually spend £ 4.3 billion a year in the West End, according to PwC data.
At the same time, hundreds of thousands of commuters who venture into the city for dinner, a drink or the theater continue to work from home.
West End: by the numbers
216,000 Number of people employed in London’s West End
63 percent Decrease in visitor numbers last week compared to the same week in 2019
£ 3.2 billion loss of turnover due to retailers, pubs and eateries in the vicinity of the center during lockdown
£ 5 billion Potential loss of sales if people don’t return to the West End
23 percent Percentage of people who have confidence in the use of public transport
39 Number of theaters in the West End
Suburban shops, restaurants and pubs benefit at the expense of cities.
On the first day the government ended its official work from home, only one in six office workers was expected to commute, according to a survey of 36 major businesses by the Mail.
The change in advisory only increased the number of visitors to West End companies by one-tenth, adding pressure to ministers to reinforce the message back to work.
According to the business partnership, the New West End Company (NWEC), the total number of people going there, which usually averages nearly 22 million a month, fell 63 percent in July.
Ros Morgan, CEO of Heart of London Business Alliance, which represents 500 companies, said: “The government should actively encourage companies to open their workplaces safely to their employees and encourage people to return to public transport in London. ‘
NWEC claims its members may be forced to cut 50,000 jobs as companies see up to half of the area’s £ 10 billion annual sales evaporate.
Such an avalanche of job losses would inevitably have a knock-on effect on the rest of the economy. One of the main bottlenecks for city centers is the perception of public transport by shoppers.
One of the West End’s most high profile residents, Selfridges has already cut 450 jobs in its four stores in London, Birmingham and Manchester
Only one in four citizens is confident to travel by public transport, even though most trains run on a small part of the total capacity.
This is in contrast to 43 percent of shoppers who enjoy going to the store. More than one in three have visited bars and restaurants in the past six weeks, supported by the Eat Out To Help Out program.
Retailers are demanding clearer transport messages to increase customer confidence.
But stores predict that less than half of London’s office workers will be back at their workplace even in the run-up to Christmas.
It is an icy pace of recovery for cities, and as the leave period diminishes over the next ten weeks, tens of thousands of workers are at stake.
Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on it, we can earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money and use it for free. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow commercial relationships to affect our editorial independence.