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Three-point plan proposed to ‘get London shopping again’


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.”

Related Experts

Paul Souber

Co- Head UK & EMEA Retail

Retail Agency - Central London

London - West End

Paul Souber is a highly experienced London retail property expert, and has a particular specialism in the luxury sector.

He advises major London landlords – including The Crown Estate, Grosvenor, The Church Commissioners and Shaftesbury Plc – on how their retail holdings in the capital can be enhanced through leasing and placemaking.

His consultancy also involves advising various leading brands on their property strategy and sourcing the stores which best serve their strategic needs.

During a career in which he has advised on the leasing of more than 1.5m sq. ft. of shopping space, Paul has worked with clients including Yves St Laurent, Roksanda Ilincic, Gina Shoes, Balenciaga, Oliver Bonas, Boux Avenue, Sweaty Betty and Headmasters.

He is Head of London Retail Agency and Co Head of the EMEA Retail Team at Colliers International

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Hannah Zitren

Associate Director

Marketing & Communications


I am responsible for media relations and generating coverage in top tier broadcast and print media. I work across a range of Colliers’ UK & Pan-EMEA business lines advising on their strategic and tactical PR needs.

My role includes:

·         Developing and executing PR plans for the various business lines to help promote their key messages across all aspects of the media - print, broadcast and social.

·          Media evaluation and reporting objectives, targets and successes across the business.

·         Reputation management and crisis management.

·         Media training.

·         Media engagement: setting up meetings with top tier media and various internal spokespeople to continuously expand and build a presence with property and vertical media network.

·         Consistently delivering service excellence, meeting with business heads of a regular basis and trying to influence the research as much as possible to ensure our content has a strong enough news hook.

·         Key campaigns that I work on include MIPIM; MAPIC; REVO; Midsummer Retail Report; IHIF; Cities of Influence in addition to a host of all alternative property sector research reports.

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