Retailers have spoken of “dead” high streets in London as shoppers avoid the West End because of the Olympics.
Before the Games booksellers were undecided whether the event – bringing thousands new people into the capital – would mean a boost in book sales or a decline. However many are now reporting a bleak effect on retail as hoards of usual shoppers are choosing to avoid potential traffic congestion and leaving work early.
Jim MacSweeney, manager at Gay’s The Word bookshop on Russell Street in central London, said: “It is really dead. People are just not travelling into central London. In the last two days there has been nobody - it could be a rainy week in November. Before that sales were up.” He added that he added not received a delivery in the last two days either.
Terry Crawford, assistant manager at Blackwell’s on Charing Cross Road, said the shop was experiencing a similar level of quietness. “From what I am hearing it is like this all over London, for every retailer, including restaurants,” he said. “I think we have lost a huge amount of tourists that would have usually come and haven’t because of the Olympics – instead they came during the Jubilee. I think the negative press coverage about some forecast problems with transport have put a lot of people off.”
However, Foyles in Westfield Stratford City next to the Olympic site reported experiencing a big “jump” in custom.
Tom Wolvey, supervisor at the store, said throngs of people had been flooding into the bookshop on Saturday and again at the start of this week. He said: “There are lot of athletes coming in and press – and we saw Torvill and Dean on Sunday although I know they are not competing.”
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