Retailers, hotels and restaurants in London’s West End are braced for a £2billion slump in sales over the crucial Christmas season as tourists stay away and stricter lockdown rules come in.
November marks the start of the eight weeks leading up to Christmas, when West End businesses typically net a third of their annual sales.
But forecasts from the New West End Company, a partnership of about 600 businesses in the area, show sales under Tier 2 Covid rules would have fallen to £900 million this year, down from £2.5 billion in 2019.
Slump: November marks the start of the eight weeks leading up to Christmas, when West End businesses typically net a third of their annual sales
Under stricter lockdown rules, sales are expected to fall by 80 per cent to just £500million.
Warnings about unnecessary travel and quarantine restrictions on overseas trips mean the number of shoppers in the West End is likely to fall from 42million to 18million at most.
Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of the New West End Company, said the Government’s ‘disastrous’ decision to scrap tax-free shopping at the end of the year would put further pressure on stores and leave 25,000 British jobs at risk.
‘We are urging the Government to reconsider the long-term consequences of making the UK the only European country not to offer tax relief to tourists,’ he added.