What impact has the Olympics had on London retailers so far?

Posted on 22 August, 2012 by MOVEHUT

Footfall rose 5 per cent for the period of the Olympics with the West End enjoying a 10.6 per cent year-on-year increase during the course of the second week of London 2012, according to data provider Springboard.

This was despite a greater fall in West End footfall during the first weekend of the Olympics that set alarm bells ringing from commercial property retailers, theatres and restaurant groups that the Games was damaging trading.

Springboard said the rise in footfall was driven by the “feel good factor” created by the Olympics and was notably apparent on Sunday, August 5, the day after Team GB won six gold medals. The better than expected statistics matched national retail sales records showing sales increase 0.3 per cent in July.

The New West End Company, which represents commercial property retailers in Regent Street, Oxford Street and Bond Street, launched a marketing campaign during the second week of the Olympics called “No Tickets Required” in an effort to draw people to the area.

It also asked Transport for London to tone down its communications about transport chaos in London. Throughout the second week of the Games, messages on the London Underground encouraged tourists to visit attractions across the city. However, despite the improvement in London, footfall across the UK fell 0.2 per cent due to Britons staying at home to watch the Games on television and fears about transport.

Head of retail insights at Springboard, Diane Wehrle, said: “Although UK retail footfall was down slightly over the whole Olympic period, it is great to see the recovery during the last week of the Games.”

She further added: “The West End of London reported a significant 10.6 per cent year on year footfall increase, during the second week, which provides optimism for footfall ahead of the upcoming Paralympics Games as the feel good factor continues.”

John Lewis, the department store group, also confirmed a boost from the Olympics. It said sales increased 14.9 per cent year-on-year in the week to August 11.

The company said: “The final week of the London 2012 Olympic Games and the weekend celebrations certainly played a part in our success.”

Stores have reported a surge in demand for sports merchandise because of the Olympics, in particular for the Team GB kit. According to the commercial property department store, sportswear sales climbed 178 per cent during the second week of the Olympics, helping overall fashion sales to rise by 19 per cent.

Supermarket Waitrose said sales grew 12 per cent during the week, with sales of champagne up 35 per cent and sparkling wine up 78 per cent as the UK enjoyed celebrating Team GB success.

However, the John Lewis figures determine that not every corner of the UK enjoyed a boost in sales. John Lewis department stores in the south east of England outside of the West End and the Olympic Park reported a drop in sales, with Bluewater in Kent down 5.5 per cent and Brent Cross down 0.5 per cent.

The figures from John Lewis were disclosed after Australian property developer Westfield stated that 5.5 million people visited its Stratford shopping centre throughout the past two weeks. The commercial property company said it had enjoyed “unprecedented exposure to a global audience” through holding the shopping centre next to London’s Olympic Park.

The 5.5 million visitors are equivalent to almost 10 per cent of the 60 million customers that Westfield expects to visit both its London shopping centres during the whole year. However, the company did not provide sales records for the shopping centres, or disclose footfall statistics for its west London site.

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