The number of Christmas shoppers in central London has fallen by more than a quarter from pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest figures.
The West End saw footfall drop 27% on Tuesday compared to the same day in 2019, the New West End Company reported.
The figures were nevertheless 10% higher than those of Tuesday of the previous week.
However, it showed that the typical pre-Christmas rush to shop for gifts is significantly depressed from pre-pandemic levels as many people choose to stay home amid the growing number of coronaviruses.
Jace Tyrrell, Managing Director of New West End Company, said Wednesday: âOnce again we are seeing fewer customers on Main Street than we were two years ago.
âRetail and entertainment businesses will have spent a lot of time and money preparing for a busy Christmas season, just to keep people at home naturally in the face of rising Covid rates.
“It is therefore vital that they receive the necessary financial support to get them through the winter months – support which must go beyond the limited package announced by the Treasury yesterday.
âWe need to see tangible relief for retail, alongside more substantial measures for leisure businesses.
âOtherwise, we run the risk that more popular brands will be forced to close in the coming months. “
Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Tuesday launched Â£ 1 billion in financial support programs for the hospitality and leisure sector, but provided limited funding for other affected areas such as retail.
Rachael Robathan, Head of Westminster City Council, said: âThe latest trade figures show how difficult the business situation is on the streets.
âWhile we must all obey health advice, the effects of working from home and what amounts to an unofficial lockdown are clearly keeping many people at home. “