Stratford’s fashion independents have given a mixed reception to the new Westfield in the days following the shopping centre’s opening.
Some boutique owners in the neighbouring Stratford Centre expressed concern that days of slow trade since the new mall’s first day would stretch into weeks.
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Sarj Mushtaq has owned and operated leather clothing shop City of Leather for 14 years. He said: “Business has not been good lately for anybody; people are worried. But it won’t affect my store as much because there are no leather shops in the new Westfield.
“We have had less footfall because it’s new so people are curious. But the hype will die down and custom will come back.”
Mushtaq predicts the areas surrounding Stratford will be hit the worst. He said: “I think it will affect Ilford, Walthamstow and Romford more because they are established shopping areas already and people are being sucked out of them to come to Stratford.”
He added: “At least here we’ll have half a chance if we get a 10% share of Westfield’s footfall - they are coming here from other areas which they would not normally do.”
DK Johal, owner of footwear store Debbie’s Shoes, had a gloomier forecast. She said: “Business is very bad. On opening day it was dead, then yesterday - dead. I don’t know what we are going to do.
“People are coming to Stratford and going straight there. However, some customers are going there and coming back saying that it’s too expensive.”
Martin Smith, owner of contemporary menswear boutique Duvels, said: “This week hasn’t been bad, footfall has actually been up 20% to 25%. But we are still very worried, the past three years have been so hard and now we have a cashflow problem, so if things do drop off much more we will probably have to close.”