Retailers in the West End of London are understood to have lost at least £5m in sales following the riots in the capital over the weekend.
A small group of protestors who split off from the peaceful trade-union organised march against government cuts on Saturday, caused damage to shops and other commercial property on Piccadilly and Oxford Street, with stores including Bhs, Topshop and iconic department store Fortnum & Mason targeted.
Brian Connell, cabinet member for business at Westminster City Council, which looks after the West End shopping area, told the Telegraph that it would be a “surprise” if the impact to sales was any less than £5m, taking in to account the impact of previous anti-capitalism May Day protests in the area.
“The big impact was people who wanted to get in but couldn’t because they had stopped running the buses or [who] were put off,” he said. The figure does not take in to account the cost of repairing damaged shops.
Sales on a Saturday in the area normally hit £30m.
Retailers have also voiced their anger over the apparent lack of police action after shops were attacked and said that they had given both the police and the Government notice about the potential impact. As well as lost revenues, retailers fear that the rioting will have had an impact on the West End as a tourist destination and attractive area in which to open stores.
A spokesman for the New West End Company, which represents retailers in Bond Street, Oxford Street, Regent Street, said: “We have been preparing with the police for the last two weeks and the idea was to keep all the protesters in one spot. Obviously what happened is not ideal, but we need time to assess what actually went on with the various groups.”
A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium added:”The democratic right to protest is very important – we completely accept and support it. However, retailers need to be able to lawfully get on with their business and we are concerned, clearly, that shoppers can make the most of London’s West End without feeling in any way unsafe or intimidated.”