LONDON PREPARES FOR PROTESTORS
Byline: James Fallon
LONDON — Retailers and other businesses here are bracing themselves for a week of chaos that could result in losses of up to $15 million.
The main concern is anticapitalist demonstrations planned for Tuesday by the London May Day Collective. The demonstrations are expected to attract thousands of marchers, who last year caused extensive damage to stores and businesses in central London and the city’s financial district.
Last year’s march took place on a weekend and police and retailers are worried that the damage could be even greater this year because the demonstration will take place during the work week. The collective has warned that it will target businesses in the Oxford and Regent Street areas, which contain stores such as Selfridges, NikeTown, Gap, Liberty, Dickins & Jones, House of Fraser, French Connection and Austin Reed.
As a result of the protest, most of the 95 retailers on Bond Street are considering closing for the day. The street contains stores such as Burberry, Ungaro, Versace, Emporio Armani, Polo Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Tiffany, Asprey & Garrard and Donna Karan.
While many of the stores had not made a final decision regarding closing as of Friday, Polo Ralph Lauren said it will close its flagship on New Bond Street as a precautionary measure.
“It’s more to protect our staff than because of any potential damage to property,” a spokeswoman said.
Retailers in London’s other main shopping areas said they expected to remain open on Tuesday but were preparing for the worst. Selfridges said it had stepped up security but would be open as normal. A Nike spokeswoman said Friday that it was taking precautionary measures and would decide closer to Tuesday whether to keep its NikeTown store in Oxford Circus open.
A spokeswoman for the Regent Street Association said it was encouraging its members to remain open.
“Otherwise the demonstrators have won half the battle,” she said.
A Harrods spokesman also said the store would remain open as normal, but was updating its staff on the latest security procedures. “We are being cautious but the majority of the May Day protests appear to be away from this area,” the spokesman said.
On top of the May Day protests, London is preparing for a transport strike that will see workers for the subway and a major train line walk out for 24 hours on Thursday. The subway workers are striking against alleged safety shortfalls on the network. Meanwhile, train staff on the main commuter route covering southwest London and its surrounding suburbs are walking out because they now have to wear name tags and red waistcoats.