£10 billion spend forcast for West End if overcrowding & environmental issues are resolved

Over 200 Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street retail businesses gathered this week for the West End 2012 Retail Conference to hear about what shoppers really think of the West End and what one of the UK’s largest Business Improvement Districts – New West End Company – plans to do about it.

At the New West End Company annual event, which took place at the new BBC headquarters on Regent Street, global property adviser CBRE – who were commissioned to conduct the My West End Report, the first major consumer quantitative and qualitative study for over five years – predicted an extremely positive economic outlook for the UK’s most important retail district, with a possible turnover in excess of £10 billion by 2020. This would be an increase of £2.5 billion, with spend for 2012 predicted at around £7.5 billion.

However, in the My West End Report – based on 3,800 interviews with shoppers – 31% international and 69% domestic visitors, CBRE confirmed that consumer concerns regarding congestion and overcrowding signal a need for more green spaces and improved navigational facilities if the district is to keep its world class appeal among domestic and international shoppers.

Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, Chairman of New West End Company, opened the conference stating: “The West End’s future economic prosperity cannot be taken for granted. Whilst the CBRE report shows outstanding domestic and global support for the area today we must be under no illusion that if we don’t continue to invest, deal with congestion and overcrowding issues, we run the risk of losing shoppers and with it the huge economic benefits that drive much of the London economy.

She added: “On a positive note, each of the four Mayoral candidates is extremely committed to the West End and all have undertaken to work with us to remedy congestion and overcrowding to safeguard the economic contribution the West End makes to London’s GDP.”London Expert for CBRE, Jonathan De Mello, who wrote the report, added: “The West End is the leading retail destination brand in the world, with more flagship stores than anywhere else in the world. The research showed huge commitment to the West End but also underlined what to watch out for, with the area potentially becoming a victim of its own success if overcrowding isn’t dealt with – given up to 70 million more journeys via Crossrail into the West End in just six years’ time.”

Key findings from CBRE, who conducted the report, captured the ups and downs of shopper trends and views on the West End.

Shopper Ups:

Shoppers on average rated the West End 4.2 out of 5 in a ranking, with 5 being excellent 57% of shoppers stated that the West End’s fashion and retail offer was the number one reason to visit the area Shoppers revealed an average dwell time of 170 minutes [average dwell time in UK regional and super regional shopping centres stood at 110 minutes] Shoppers’ average spend of £169 per visit, with a number of high spending individuals upping the average in the summer from £127 to £211 per visit. [average spend across a pool of regional and super regional shopping centres stood at £80] It is Oxford Street’s strong retail offer and location close to key transport links that attracts 80% of shoppers from Bond Street and Regent Street to either start of finish their journey on Oxford Street

Shopper Downs:

21% of Londoners and workers and 28% of residents stated that less crowding [traffic and pedestrians] would increase how often they visited 36% of shoppers confirmed the need for better navigational facilities & advice in the area

Richard Dickinson, CEO of New West End Company, said: “With only 100 days to go until the Olympics, this summer’s opportunity is our immediate focus. We’re reassured that the current Crossrail utility works on Oxford Street will be removed by the end of this month, which will substantially relieve overcrowding in the short term.

However, the five year outlook for the area has to be based on a combination of investment to improve the experience for visitors and continuing to encourage domestic and international shoppers through compelling marketing activities.”

Dickinson concludes: “With international spenders from China and the Middle East spending around £800-£900 per visit, the West End has to compete globally as a top class shopping destination. Addressing visa restrictions for high spenders from China, will also be very much on our agenda over the coming months.”

Highlights Of Five Year Investment Of Over £2bn – 2007 to 2012

Over £2 billion of private sector investment into the West End in preparation for the opening of Crossrail in 2017. £175 million investment from Derwent London plc will house both retail and office space at St Giles Circus anchoring a revitalised East Oxford Street.

£420 million Park House development to open in Autumn 2012. A mixed-use scheme from Land Securities plc and Qatari will provide some of the largest office floor plates in the West End together with modern retail space. The Crown Estate’s £1 billion redevelopment of the St James’s Gateway and the conversion of traffic in Piccadilly to more pedestrian friendly two-way traffic

The Crown Estate’s recently completed £300 million redevelopment of the Quadrant building just off Regent Street. Multi-million pound hotel investments including: the Grosvenor hotel development with Corbin and King hotels on Balderton Street, Mayfair.

£300 million investment from the leisure and entertainment industry including: £22 million redevelopment investment in the Hippodrome, Leicester Square and £100 million spent by Westminster City Council on public space refurbishments across the West End £420 million of retail investment including: £40 million in refurbishments across West End stores including the largest ever Burberry store to open on Regent Street and a major new three-storey Chanel flagship on Bond Street.

As part of the ORB Action Plan, Westminster City Council, Transport for London and New West End Company, supported by The Crown Estate, jointly funded a £4 million diagonal pedestrian crossings and streetscape improvements for Oxford Circus, which has enhanced the existing public realm by creating an attractive, inviting and safe environment for pedestrians.

Cllr Daniel Astaire, Westminster City Council cabinet member for business, said: “We will continue to work with all of our business partners, including the New West End Company, to encourage growth and prosperity. Our Civic Contract outlines our commitment to cutting red tape and allowing entrepreneurs space to express themselves, and we are already creating 2,012 new employment opportunities this year for young people.

“Congestion remains an on going problem, and is a threat to economic success, but we will find solutions through our new West End Commission. We hope that the West End will continue to buck the national trend and generate billions for the UK economy. Westminster wants to be the most pro- business council in the UK.”

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