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Rail strikes a "blow" say struggling retailers
20 June 2022

Retailers say this week’s rail strikes are a “blow” as they struggle with rising costs and staff shortages and are relying on the first restriction-free summer since 2019.

Footfall is expected to drop by 9.3% across all retail destinations this week, but high streets will see 10% fewer shoppers and shopping centres will receive 13% fewer visitors, according to analysts Springboard.

Diane Wehrle, director of insights at Springboard, said: “The planned rail strikes are likely to encourage those who can hybrid work to work from home, and therefore footfall in towns and cities is likely to decrease – on the particular strike days but also on non-strike days, due to delays that are likely to be caused on non-strike days due to trains being in the wrong place.

“The latest evidence, from the day of the tube strike, indicates that footfall declined in central London whilst rising marginally in outer London.

An increase in activity in outer-London centres has been synonymous with homeworking as people are able to frequent their local high streets more easily.”

Dee Corsi, chief operating operator at New West End Company, which represents 600 retail, restaurant, hotel and property owners across central London, said: “The proposed rail strikes are expected to bring London’s West End, and the wider country, to a grinding halt.

“This will be a particular blow for commuters reliant on these services to get into the capital and other city centres for work, and retail and hospitality businesses that are already struggling with rising costs and staffing shortages.

“With international visitor numbers still recovering from the impact of the pandemic, it is frustrating to see fresh disruptions that will deter much-needed domestic visitors.

“These strikes will hit our retail and leisure destinations at a time when they should be making the most of our first restriction-free summer since 2019.”

Half of Britain’s rail lines will be closed during strikes on 21, 23 and 25 June  by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT).

Transport for London (TfL) has also “strongly encouraged” people not to travel on London Underground on 21 June because of a 24-hour walkout by the RMT and Unite.

The disputes have flared over pay, jobs and conditions.

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