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London’s Oxford Street Is Generating Cash for the Whole Neighborhood

LONDON — Oxford Street isn’t paved with gold quite yet, but it’s getting there quickly, according to new research from New West End Company and international property firm Colliers.

The street has had its ups and downs over the past decades, and has been a checkerboard of quality stores such as Selfridges, Marks & Spencer and Zara, and low-end market traders peddling everything from cheap souvenirs to overpriced American candy.

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Thanks to a series of investments the street has been attracting a better quality of tenant — Ikea is moving into the former Topshop space in Oxford Circus in the fall — and has undergone improvements to public spaces and pedestrian areas.

The most significant of those investments is a 90-million-pound project called the Oxford Street Programme, which is set to run until 2030, delivering improvements to the street and neighboring areas.

The program is funded by New West End Company, which represents more than 600 businesses across 80 streets in and around Oxford Circus, and Westminster City Council.

According to the report, “Oxford Street: 2030,” the street is already improving.

In 2023, Oxford Street contributed the highest share of any part of the West End, and captured an estimated 3.1 billion pounds in sales, or around 35 percent of total sales in the neighborhood.

The report added there has been an evolution away from “transactional retail to immersive retail, leisure and cultural experiences.”

Dee Corsi, chief executive officer of New West End Company, said the street’s transformation “is well underway — and its future is being created by businesses, property owners and investors who recognize the opportunities that ‘the nation’s high street’ can unlock.”

Corsi said the street’s future success lies in its improved public areas and international appeal.

“By further prioritizing the creation of welcoming and inclusive public spaces and continuing to welcome global investment into the street, Oxford Street is becoming more than just a retail destination; it is a vibrant, cultural, and recreational hub whose success is integral to the future of London,” Corsi said.

Paddy Gamble, head of Retail Strategy & Analytics, Colliers, said the street is the “single biggest contributor” to the West End’s ranking as the leading commercial venue in the U.K. “The planned public realm enhancements and a shift to a more varied on-street mix will only act as a further catalyst for long-term sustainable growth.”

Retailers on the street said the public realm improvements have given them a boost as they increasingly focus on indoor and outdoor experiences, client entertainment and relationships.

Andrew Keith, chief executive officer of Selfridges, said the store views itself as “a place to come and meet friends, to watch a movie, to have a cocktail, to be seen. So much of our time has become digital; the physical element of how we invest our time and build relationships is becoming much more important.”

Henrik Nordvall, U.K. and Ireland country manager, H&M, said his group is seeing across all its markets that “experience is more important than transaction. A transaction you can do wherever you want now; on a bus, at home, wherever you can get online. So the physical store becomes about how you experience the brand, not just the product. What does the brand stand for? What’s its true story? That is what stores will be about in the future in flagship locations; they will serve a bigger purpose.”

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