LONDON — Retailers in London’s West End have expressed anger with local government officials over damage to their stores and millions of losses in sales and footfall after anarchist groups attacked the capital’s main shopping district during a protest march over the weekend.
Rioters marred what was meant to be a peaceful protest against government spending cuts organized by Britain’s Trades Union Congress. They smashed windows, vandalized storefronts and bank machines, and threw missiles at policemen. Topshop and Topman, Boots and the Ritz Hotel were all caught in the violence.
A spokeswoman for Fortnum & Mason told WWD lost sales are estimated at 80,000 pounds, or $128,000, while British press reports have put the total sum of losses at 5 million pounds, or $8 million, as shops were forced to close or suspend trading.
On Saturday, Boots closed six of its central London stores as a precautionary measure, while other stores such as Fortnum & Mason were subject to impromptu sit-ins by protestors.
About 150 people were arrested in connection with the violence, and the cost of the cleanup by Westminster Council is estimated to be 50,000 pounds, or $80,000.
On Monday, the New West End Co., which represents some 600 businesses in and around Oxford, Regent, and Bond Streets called for a summit with London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, and other London authorities.
In a statement, they said they want future marches to be routed away from retail and leisure areas where footfall is high, and a requirement for protest organizers to provide their own insurance against any damage caused.
Most of the stores reopened on Sunday, and a spokesman for the New West End Co. said shopper numbers were 21 percent higher than a year ago.