MONDAY 6 AUG 2012 3:34 PM


The immense popularity of the 2012 Olympic Games is undeniable with millions both tuning in and buying highly-priced tickets to watch everything from the Opening Ceremonies last week to Usain Bolt's repeat performance last night. But, despite government promises of a boost to customer numbers, the Games have caused a dip in traffic to London-based retailers with physical storefronts.

LOCOG's response to an outcry by local businesses focused on future growth promoted by the Games. They projected an increase of £950 million over five years. "In the long term, the aim is to attract more visitors to experience the capital in 2013 and beyond," a spokesperson for the committee said.

Record numbers of travellers flooded the Tube and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) this week. Transport for London recorded 4.31 million Underground passengers on 2 August and 4.4 million the following day. Occupancy on the DLR is up 70 per cent from its non-Olympic norm and the Overground has seen a 27 per cent spike in travellers.

While Olympic venues are well attended, as the transport numbers can attest, the rest of London has experienced a marked quiet in what is usually the busy summer period, leaving retailers all over the city wondering where the promised increase in customers is. The answer is likely over at the Olympic Park. The Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, anticipating the incredible numbers of visitors to the Park during the athletics competition, was open only to ticketholders this weekend.

Footfall in the West End is down 4.5 per cent compared with the same weekend last year and East London shoppers are down 9 per cent, according to researcher Experian. Others cite a drop of 10-12 per cent of visitors on Oxford Street as compared to 2011 numbers.