With London’s retail industry being particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 lockdown, as more than 50 per cent of its shopping sales depend on overseas tourists and visitors from outside of London, a three-point plan is being proposed by global real estate advisor, Colliers International to stimulate shopping across the capital.
The measures encompass the immediate introduction of an Online Sales Tax; public transport incentives including free travel into the centre of the capital and substantial VAT relief on items bought in stores.
Colliers’ Head of London Retail Agency, Paul Souber, comments: “Both the Government and the London Mayor's office should be looking at positive action to make it easier and cheaper to get into the capital; and provide incentives for shopping in the capital. What’s needed is a mix of financial and practical measures.
“The No.1 priority should be for the Government to introduce an Online Sales Tax with the proceeds of the tax take channelled directly into physical shopping environments across the UK and not just in London. Online shopping has boomed during the lockdown and yet much of it is contributing little to the public coffers. Revenues from the introduction of an online sales tax could provide funding support for our shopping streets and local economies whilst not putting a further burden on the public purse . Additionally VAT relief on “in store” purchases would stimulate physical visits and help reintroduce and revive our High Street’s after lockdown.”
Other measures being proposed are to introduce free public travel on buses and tubes into London’s Zone 1 after 10am.
Depending on the success of the initial measures the Treasury should be ready to extend rates relief on retail and food and beverage premises after April 2021.
Souber added: “The West End’s reopening plan, which has been developed by Westminster Council and the New West End Company, provides a safe and responsible platform for the resumption of retailing and leisure in the capital but this must be coupled with direct and positive action to encourage shoppers to come back to London’s great shopping streets.
“We have to get London shopping again otherwise the economic impact in terms of lost jobs and revenue to the Treasury will be felt far beyond the capital.”