WWD.com/retail-news/retail-features/little-retail-impact-after-london-bombs-568198/

LONDON — The second wave of bombings in two weeks jolted this capital Thursday, but appeared to have little immediate impact on retailing and other businesses.

The four minor explosions — three in the subway and one on a bus — occurred about 1 p.m., leaving some commuters stranded as Underground stations were shut. One casualty was reported.

“It’s business as usual,” said a spokesman for Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge.

Philine Dumba, director of press for Browns, the designer specialty store in Mayfair, said activity was brisk in the afternoon.

The blasts occurred exactly two weeks after suicide bombings on subways and buses killed 56 people. The impact of those attacks resulted in heightened mass-transit security in the U.S., particularly in cities with subway and commuter rail systems such as New York and Washington.

Those attacks virtually paralyzed transport systems in London’s city center and forced many stores to close early. The blasts Thursday did not have the same impact, though traffic was chaotic.

While the immediate effects of latest bombings appeared minimal, Tim Denison, director of knowledge management at the London-based retail consultancy SPSL, said it was clear that they would weigh on consumers.

“Shoppers returned quickly to the stores after the attacks earlier this month because it seemed they had filed away the outrage as a ‘one-off threat,’” he said. “Clearly, people are now beginning to think of these attacks as an ongoing threat.”

In the week after the terrorism on July 7, the number of shoppers in central London fell 23.3 percent in contrast with SPSL estimates of a 50 percent drop.

Denison said the fact that the bombings did not take place at rush hour was cause for alarm.

“It means everyone has to be on their mettle all the time,’’ he said. “It’s clear the attackers really want to get to the psyche of Londoners.”

SPSL projected that shopper numbers would be about 15 percent lower than usual as a result of both attacks, he said.

Luxury hotels reported no major drop in reservations during the past two weeks and few cancellations on Thursday. 

This story first appeared in the July 22, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“After the first wave of attacks, we had 40 cancellations — and 60 new bookings,” said a spokeswoman for Claridge’s. “We were expecting more of an impact. The hotel has been fully booked for the past six weeks.’’

— With contributions from Ellen Burney and Nina Jones