Traffic-free shopping day in London's West End scrapped

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Media caption,

Traffic-free shopping day is scrapped in the West End

An annual traffic-free day for Christmas shoppers in the West End will not be held this year.

VIP (Very Important Pedestrians) Day began in 2005 and attracted one million people to Oxford and Regent Street in 2012, garnering sales of over £17m.

The New West End Company (NWEC), which represents businesses in the area, said retailers wanted to do "something new".

Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon said retailers should have built upon the popular event.

In the past, the day has seen hundreds of buses re-routed and shops offer entertainment and relaxation zones.

'Bitterly disappointing'

In a statement, the NWEC said: "We have had more traffic free events this year in the West End than ever before - there will have been eight in Regent Street alone.

Image caption,
Special events were held to attract shoppers on the traffic-free day in 2012

"In our planning for 2014, in consultation with our members, a traffic-free day will be considered."

Ms Pidgeon, leader of the Lib Dem group in London Assembly, said: "After a decade of growing success, it is bitterly disappointing that VIP Day is not taking place this year.

"Every year, tills have been ringing out as tens of thousands of extra customers have flooded into the West End to take advantage of streets free from noisy and polluting vehicles.

"Far from ending VIP Day, we should be building upon it."

Jeremy Baker, a retail analyst and affiliate professor at the ESCP Business School, said: "They didn't get enough money out of it.

"All the people coming to central London and dancing in the middle of Oxford Street did not go out that day and spend enough money in the shops."

The NWEC said traffic would be redirected from Regent Street on 2 November for a motor show and then again days later when the Christmas lights are switched on.

Oxford Street will also be closed to traffic on 12 November when its Christmas lights are turned on.

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