My last post predicted how the retail sector would fare during the Olympics both in the capital and beyond. A week into The Games, some of my thoughts were correct and some were sadly far off the mark, however I am not sure anyone could have predicted what has happened this week. I was optimistic that both bricks and mortar retailers and e-tailers would benefit from the influx of tourists and the domestic consumer working from home, all of whom were eager to spend; unfortunately this is not the case.
The Financial Times reported on Thursday (02.08.12) that some retailers in Central London have reported a 30 per cent decrease in sales when compared to the previous year. There have been complaints that LOCOG and TFL have deterred people from the Capital, under the mass hype that there would be travel chaos. Anyone who has travelled into Central London over the last week will know this is not the case; the majority of roads are clear and the shops quiet. Unsurprisingly however, in Westfield Stratford City retailers are reaping the rewards, so much so that this weekend the shopping centre will be closed to the general public and only accessible tothose with Olympic Park tickets. It seems that in the first week of The Games, commuters are working from home and the Olympic tourist is staying East, and this is having a huge impact on any retailer that is based in Central London. It's interesting to see that in the last few days TFL has changed tactics, and is now suggesting people "make the most of London", urging people to venture West to the shops and tourist attractions.
In contrast the online retail sector is reporting a different trend. Retail Week reported on Wednesday (01.08.12) that online retailers including Very and MyWardrobe have seen a surge in sales over the last few days. At BrandAlley, we saw a 100 per cent uplift in sales on Monday when compared to the previous year, something we put down to Londoners staying at home during the Olympics and using the time to log on and shop. This tallies with the fact that we have seen many of our customers choose to have their packages sent to their home address rather than work.
It will be interesting to see what happens next week. I am hopeful that retailers in Central London will begin to see an uplift in sales as people start to become more confident about coming into the city. It could also be likely that many tourists will choose to spend the last few days of their visit enjoying the sites of London, as well as our spectacular retail offering. I am of course pleased that online retailers are doing well, however I have always been a strong ambassador that we need a varied and prosperous retail sector across both online and retail stores. Let's hope that next week allows the traditional retailer to begin reaping the awards of London 2012 too.