West End poised for £1 billion Christmas shopping spreeComments Off on West End poised for £1 billion Christmas shopping spree
Central London’s three premier shopping thoroughfares — Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street — are braced for up to 40 million visitors over the next six weeks.
Shopping is also expected to be boosted by Christmas Day falling on a Thursday this year, with bosses predicting a last-minute mid-week surge — while men are still expected to leave shopping until Christmas Eve.
The New West End Company, which represents stores across the zone, believes that sales will be up around eight per cent on last year, with shoppers feeling less anxious about their personal finances than at any time since the start of the credit crunch in 2007.
The organisation’s deputy chief executive Jace Tyrrell said: “The big growth is the UK domestic customer, as generally consumer confidence is stronger than it has been for some time. There is more spending power and wages are growing in real terms.
“This has been a year of political uncertainty both here and abroad, so there is a lot of pent-up demand to spend and the confidence is helping people when it comes to buying big-ticket items.”
The British economy is expected to have grown by more than three per cent this year and unemployment is falling rapidly.
Meanwhile, mortgage rates are still at record lows and real wages are finally rising faster than inflation.
Mr Tyrrell added: “Christmas falling on a Thursday is the perfect day because there will not be a mass exodus from London on the Friday before Christmas, unlike previous years — giving a final busy weekend and Londoners going to work during the week.”
The unofficial starting bell for the Christmas shopping rush will be sounded by next week’s outbreak of Black Friday shopping deals. The US import — which falls at the end of November after US Thanksgiving — is now expected to become the busiest weekend of the entire festive period, with £220 million of sales, particularly in electricals.
Mr Tyrrell said: “Black Friday is going to be huge for us, with more than 50 per cent of all stores saying they intend to have discounts.
“However, you won’t see lots of “for sale” posters because consumers will be targeted individually through their phones.”
International visits to London have also increased, with the number of higher-spending tourists growing 6.7 per cent to 17.9 million this year.
However, the political and economic sanctions involving Russia have led to a steep fall in high spenders from that country. This has been tempered by a rise in Chinese and US shoppers.
New research also found that the West End is now the busiest retail destination in Europe — with spending last year topping £8.5 billion, compared with Paris at £7.7 million and Madrid at £5 billion.
The bumper forecasts came as it emerged that New Bond Street is the fourth most expensive shopping street in the world, with rents of £775 per sq ft — up 4.2 per cent on last year.
New York’s Fifth Avenue regained its crown as the most expensive shopping location in the world.
It has overtaken Causeway Bay in Hong Kong to claim the top spot for the first time since 2011, according to a survey by property agent Cushman & Wakefield.