West End workers given incentives to spend cash at local shops

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

More than 150,000 people who work in and around the West End are being given incentives to encourage them to spend money at local shops.

The special West End Club was launched to help give shops a boost.

Central London has suffered from being the centre in the so-called “doughnut effect” as people continue to work from home and avoid public transport.

The West End – which is normally bustling with tourists and office workers all hitting the shops – has seen a 50 per cent drop in footfall compared with the same time last year since shops reopened on June 15.

The area has been hit hard as it normally sees a £10b annual turnover – with many overseas tourists putting it at the top of their holiday wish list.

As part of its fightback, the New West End Company has launched a digital app loyalty programme in a bid to get tills ringing.

Jyce Tyrrell, who heads the company which represents 500 businesses, said: “Our new digital app-based programme will be offering a whole host of offers and incentives exclusively for our 150,000 local West End workers, aiming to increase local dwell time and spend when back in the office.”

Current offers include 20 per cent off toys at the world’s most famous toy store – Hamleys in Regent Street – and clothes at H&M’s flagship store in Oxford Street.

Workers are urged to get their bosses to sign up.

Mr Tyrrell is also lobbying government over the scrapping of VAT-free shopping for overseas shoppers because of Brexit.

The scheme is worth £3.5b in sales to non-EU visitors to the UK each year.

Mr Tyrrell said abolishing the scheme will hit struggling businesses hard.

His campaign won the backing of the leaders of Westminster City Council Rachael Robathan and her counterpart Elizabeth Campbell at Kensington and Chelsea.

They have called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to reverse the decision “before it is too late for our already struggling retail and hospitality industries”.

Pictured top: Oxford Street

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