London Tube strike: West End fears walkout will wreck hopes for sales boom

·1-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Frustrated West End bosses fear the threatened Tube strike will wipe out the chances of a vital weekend of bumper trading starting with Black Friday.

Stores and restaurants were set for their busiest weekend since the start of the pandemic with huge crowds expected to pour into central London in search of discount deals. But the threat to five key lines means hopes of a much-needed boost in revenue have been snuffed out at the worst possible time.

Jace Tyrrell, chief executive at the New West End Company, which represents businesses on Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street and in Mayfair, said: “If these strikes go ahead, it will extinguish any hopes struggling businesses had for a strong weekend.

“The last 20 months have been gruelling for West End businesses, so it’s vital we give them all the support possible this Christmas to ensure they start 2022 in a strong position. Suspending public transport options for those visiting the area — not to mention the 150,000 who work in the West End — will be extremely disruptive.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “London is now recovering, with passenger numbers at healthy levels. Industrial action at this time may hamper the recovery and hit not only TfL’s finances but businesses around the capital who depend on people being able to travel.”

The walkout comes after weeks of rapid build-up in the number of shoppers visiting the West End. Footfall is now matching or exceeding 2019 levels at the weekend, and across the week as a whole is now only about 20 per cent down on pre-pandemic levels.

Foreign tourism is only slowly building back up, particularly with Chinese and other Far Eastern shoppers.

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