On Friday for the first time ever, London’s West End hosted our biggest Christmas Lights Switch On, including our brand new scheme on Oxford Street, in partnership with The Crown Estate, Grosvenor Great Britain & Ireland and Heart of London Business Alliance.
Friday saw over 1 million LED bulbs light up across a number of iconic destinations, including Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street, South Molton Street, North Audley Street, Leicester Square, St James’s, Piccadilly and Piccadilly Circus.
The switch on marks the start of the first ever West End wide Christmas campaign – Only in the West End … This Christmas, which aims to encourage Londoners and Brits to come together and celebrate the true joy of ‘in real life’ festive experiences.
We were delighted on the night to be joined by The Mayor Of London who, at Piccadilly Circus, launched his Let’s Do Christmas campaign and encouraged Londoners and visitors to enjoy the best our capital has to offer, see the amazing lights and support our hospitality industry to continue to bounce back.
Also joining us on the night was the Lord Mayor of Westminster, our Chairs of the Bond Street & Mayfair and Oxford Street Management Groups and a number of West End faces from retail, hospitality and theatre, including John Lewis, Hamleys, Fortnum & Mason and the cast of & Juliet.
The Switch On and campaign has helped shape a positive narrative for the West End this Christmas, with widespread coverage of the unique offering that our district has to offer:
New West End Company has forecast that £1.2 billion will be spent in London’s West End this Christmas. Footfall has increased to 80% of 2019 levels, and while these latest figures are the highest the district has experienced since the first lockdown, a lack of international visitors means that spend remains lower. We are therefore continuing our calls to Government to:
- Simplify visa terms – The UK’s visitor visa product is falling behind that of the Schengen Area. In particular, the Electronic Visa Waiver Scheme is available to visitors from four of the six Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) states, which makes it easier and more attractive for high spending visitors from GCC countries to fly to Paris than to London.
- Reintroduce tax free shopping in the UK – Britain is now the only European country that does not offer tax-free shopping to visitors from outside the EU. New West End Company estimate it could lead to a direct loss of £1.2bn of retail sale, making it even more difficult to meet the Government’s ambition of returning international visitor spending to 2019 levels by 2023
- Reform Sunday Trading laws – This will give customer greater choice to shop later on Sunday’s in London’s two International Centres (West End & Knightsbridge) New West End Company research estimates that this cost-free measure would generate an additional £250m in sales annually.