Has the Olympics Been a Disaster for Businesses in London?
In the months leading up to the Olympics the warnings were stark. Signs littered the capital telling us to 'get ahead of the Games' by planning alternative routes to work, shifting our work hours or even working from home. The message was clear. Such is the deluge of people descending on London for the Games, your daily life will be changed - alot.
For those of us just wanting to get from A to B for work it was an inconvenience to say the least, but one group of Londoners were rubbing their hands with glee. Businesses in the capital thought a bonanza awaited them this summer, with the million+ extra visitors would spend heartily in their shops and restaurants, giving them a healthy boost in income during these generally difficult trading conditions.
Except many reports suggest that this has not happened. Indeed, far from reporting flat trading during the past week, many businesses are saying that takings are down on the same time last year.
The suggestion is that rather than being deluged with new customers, the Olympics has actually deterred people, be they those working in the city or would be tourists, from visiting during the last week.
I was in central London only yesterday and it was noticeable how much quieter it was. Getting around on public transport was as easy as I can ever recall it, with journey times half what they normally are.
At Oxford Circus, where tourists, office workers and shoppers usually battle for space on the pavement, the streets have been noticeably quieter than usual.
Ahmed Waqas Ahmed Waqas says: "Sales are down 50% on last year"
Ahmed Waqas, who runs a souvenir stall nearby, had ordered extra stock and planned to work longer hours to take advantage of the expected Olympic business boom - but has already given up any hope of extra sales.
Ahmed, 27, says: "It has been a disaster - it is so quiet, the tourists suddenly disappeared in the third week of July and they are not coming back.Continued on the next page