Olympic sponsor John Lewis latest victim of London 2012 'ghost town'

John Lewis: Oxford Street store
John Lewis: Oxford Street store

John Lewis has blamed a slump in sales at its Oxford Street store on London 2012 as the West End Marketing Alliance launches an ad campaign to attract people to the centre of the capital amid claims they are avoiding the area.

The retailer was hit by an 8.7% dip in sales at its flagship Oxford Street store and a 10.3% drop at its Peter Jones store in Sloane Square for the week ending on the first day of Olympic competition, 28 July.

Andy Street, managing director of the official Olympic department store, said that though the chain's sales rose overall growth had slowed as demand was being "sapped" by London 2012.

The figures follow central London attractions and theatres reporting a slowdown in business in the lead-up to and beginning of the Olympics.

Bernard Donoghue, director at the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, said: "We’ve seen about a 30%-35% reduction in the number of overseas visitors to central London attractions and that’s partly because the kind of visitor you get in an Olympic year is different to any normal year and it’s also partly because people are thinking it’s going to be crowded and hectic here in London."

In response, London & Partners, the official promotional organisation for London, has partnered with the West End Marketing Alliance to launch a six-figure campaign today (3 August) to boost trade in the capital.

The campaign is targeting Londoners and Home Counties residents with press ads in the Metro and Evening Standard and comes after New West End Company chief executive Richard Dickinson, one of the partners in the alliance, called for a "new approach to marketing".

He said: "I think transport is one of the issues they did have to face and I think the authorities have done a very good job of managing demand but I think now is the time for a more sophisticated approach on the marketing front because we’ve got one and a half million people working from home and a lot of people taking summer holidays early. 

"We just need it to be a bit more measured and do more marketing around the West End being open for business."

Nevertheless, Transport for London (TfL) and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt have dismissed claims that central London has become a "ghost town" due to the Olympics and high-profile 'Get ahead of the Games' marketing campaign.

A Transport for London (TfL) spokesman said: "People are not staying away from London. In fact, Tube passengers are already up 10% on what we would normally see at this time of the year and journeys to the key West End stations are up 12%."  

However, data from Experian Footfall reveals that footfall in West London was down 4.53% on Monday and Tuesday. 

Experian also reports that visits to retail websites increased by 15% year-on-year on Tuesday, suggesting consumers are opting to shop online rather than brave the transport network. 

Prime Minister David Cameron is calling on shoppers to return to the capital now it has been proven the transport system can hold up amid the influx of Olympics visitors.

Cameron told Sky News: "Clearly there is a challenge now though to say to Londoners [that] London's working well, it's open for business, come back into the capital, come and shop, come and eat in London's restaurants and let's make sure that all of London's economy benefits from this."

A TfL spokesman said there were no plans to drop its 'Get Ahead of the Games' marketing to lure shoppers back to central London because the message is to stagger journeys and avoid hotspots rather than avoid travel altogether. 

In comments likely to anger retailers, the culture secretary said the Olympics had turned the West End into a ghost town were "absolute nonsense" during an interview with the Evening Standard. 

He added that "some West End businesses have done extremely well because they’ve marketed on the back of the Olympics". 

His comments come after numerous reports of businesses being prevented from marketing around the Olympics because of the stringent regulations put in place by Locog to protect the interests of the official London 2012 sponsors. 

Stories include a newsagent in Stoke Newington being forced to take down balloons and bunting they had put up to celebrate the Olympic Torch passing through the area. 

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer
Mumsnet admits users' emails and passwords accessed via Heartbleed bug