Retailers and shopping area managers have been urged to carefully balance safety with the need to provide strong bricks and mortar retail experiences following terrorist threats against London’s Oxford Street and both Westfield London and Stratford.
The three retail districts were threatened in a video released on Saturday (February 21) by Al-Shabaab, the terrorists behind the Westgate Mall attack in Kenya in 2013 which killed 67 people. The terrorists called on followers to “hasten to heaven” by attacking some of the UK’s busiest shopping areas.
Richard Dickinson, the chief executive of the New West End Company, managers of streets including Oxford Street and Bond Street, said it was “aware of the video and is in contact with the Metropolitan Police who are assessing the content,” while the company “will continue to work closely with the police to ensure the safety of shoppers, workers and others who visit the West End.”
Meanwhile, Westfield emphasised that there is “no evidence of an imminent threat” to its shopping centres, but that it is taking every available step to keep its shopping centres safe for staff, retailers and customers.
It would not reveal the details of its security procedures, but said: “Our heads of security in the US and UK continue to coordinate their activities with police and government agencies.
“As usual significant resources continue to be devoted to security arrangements in our shopping centres and they continue to operate as normal.”
The video calls for “Westgate-style” attacks on shopping districts around the world, including in the US and Canada.
The terrorist group claimed responsibility for the Westgate Mall attack in Kenya in 2013, when 67 people were killed in the four-day siege.
Attacks on retail destinations are becoming more common. In January there was an attack on a Jewish grocer in eastern Paris where hostages were held and a number were killed, while a cafe in Sydney was attacked before Christmas with two hostages killed.