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Exclusive: Westfield Stratford stores report busy weekend

Retailers at Westfield Stratford have expressed their surprise after a busy weekend at stores in the shopping centre, despite it being closed to the general public.

There had been earlier fears that the East London centre may be deserted after it was announced that Westfield Stratford City would be closed to members of the public without a ticket for the Olympic Games on Friday and Saturday.

However retailers have told Drapers that sales held up.

Hugo Boss UK managing director Bernd Hake said the 10 days since the Olympics started had seen “absolutely amazing” trade. As well as footfall rising 25% last week against the previous month, sales were up 70%.

“The centre was so busy over the weekend you couldn’t even tell it was closed [to the general public],” he said.

Sales chad come from both tourists and from UK customers, with the sporting event apparently affecting buying decisions.

“Sportswear is very much in demand for both men and women,” Hake said. “I think everyone is seeing themselves as a sportsperson after watching the Olympics.”

Womenswear brand Basler was pleasantly surprised by the level of trade, with Paul Lorraine managing director of Basler UK admitting his frustration at the decision to close the mall.

“We saw lots of international visitors coming through and while it wasn’t really busy we had a few customers spending quite a bit which made it a good weekend for us,” he said.

Anthony Thompson, chief executive of lifestyle retailer Fat Face, said sales were above expectations. “We took more money than we normally do over the weekend,” he said. “We smashed our budgets over the week and Stratford was the number one store by a mile.”

However, the mall closure led to a “significant softening of traffic”, which affected trade, he added. “I was disappointed by the decision that was made because looking round on Sunday I would hardly say the centre was dangerously busy.”

However not everyone has had a positive Games period so far.

Nish Soneji, managing director at premium womenswear brand and retailer Twenty8Twelve, said the restrictions imposed at the shopping centre had made it difficult for shoppers to reach the store.

While stressing that it was difficult to estimate usual patterns, given that the unit only opened in June, Soneji said the closure “definitely had an impact”.

Jeremy Stakol, chief executive of women’s young fashion brand and retailer Lipsy, agreed that the Westfield Stratford store had been much quieter. “Footfall has been good, but people are going to the Olympics but not shopping. Sales have dropped.”

But he noted that other branches, such as that in White City, had seen an uplift. “People are changing their shopping habits and are shopping at other London locations instead.”


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